Ovarian Cancer: The Cancer That’s Caught Too Late
Feeling tired or bloated aren’t reasons that most people would rush to a doctor. But they are common ovarian cancer symptoms. The difficulty with ovarian cancer is that it often begins quietly and goes undiagnosed until it has spread to other organs. According to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, only about 20% of all cases are caught in Stage I or II.
What is ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer is a form of cancer that begins inside, near or on the outer layer of a female’s ovaries. If left untreated, the cancer can spread throughout the pelvis and abdomen.
What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?
In its earliest stages, ovarian cancer symptoms are often vague and associated with more common ailments, so they’re easy to ignore.
Some signs and symptoms include:
- Abdominal bloating
- Feeling full quickly
- Weight loss
- Pelvic or abdominal discomfort
- A frequent urge to urinate
- Back pain
The key with ovarian cancer is persistence of symptoms. If one or more of these symptoms does not resolve quickly or becomes more severe, you should see a doctor.
Is there a way to lower my risk?
All women are at risk for ovarian cancer, and unfortunately, there is no reliable ovarian cancer screening test that is recommended for women at average risk of the disease. However, there are a few things that can help reduce a woman’s risk:
- Using birth control pills for several years
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight
- Staying active
- Having regular pelvic exams
Imaging tests for ovarian cancer
If your doctor suspects ovarian cancer, an ultrasound may be performed. This radiation-free procedure allows a radiologist to view the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries for tumors or fluid-filled cysts. A CT scan can be used for larger tumors to see if the cancer has spread to other organs.
To learn more about ovarian cancer or to discuss your risk with a healthcare professional, contact us at 336.433.5000.