Symptoms of ovarian cancer may mimic symptoms of other diseases and may not occur until the disease has progressed beyond the early stages. However, doctors may have identified early warning signs and common symptoms that, if discussed with your physician, could lead to an early diagnosis. Ultimately, this may help more quickly target the most optimal treatment and increase your odds of a longer life. Here’s what women everywhere should know:
Early Detection May Improve Your Outcome
According to The American Cancer Society, about 20 percent of ovarian cancers are found at an early stage. When ovarian cancer is spotted in its early stages, 94 percent of patients live longer than five years after their diagnosis. Open communication with your doctor and routine well-woman visits can increase your chances of noticing signs of ovarian cancer in its early stages.
Be Open and Honest at Your Well-Women Visits
Your routine well-women visit may include a pelvic exam, at which your doctor will check your ovaries and uterus for size, shape and consistency and perform a Pap test, which takes a sample of cells from the cervix to check for any abnormalities that might indicate cervical cancer.
“Though these tests can’t detect ovarian cancer; they may spot other cancers or diseases. Additionally, these visits are the perfect time to discuss any new symptoms such as bloating, pelvic pain and urinary issues, which all can be signs of ovarian cancer,” says Dr. Shirley Bennett, an OB/GYN with Southwest General Medical Group Women’s Health and on the Medical Staff of Southwest General.
Knowing The Less-Common Ovarian Symptoms
Though bloating and pelvic pain might be the most common symptoms or early warning signs of ovarian cancer, women often report:
- Back pain
- Irregular bleeding or abnormal periods
- Abdominal swelling that’s accompanied by weight loss
“It’s important to know that these symptoms also can be present in non-cancerous diseases. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms daily, for a few weeks or more than 12 times a month, see your doctor immediately so you can find the cause for your symptoms,” advises Dr. Bennett.
Testing for Ovarian Cancer
Beyond a pelvic exam, your doctor also might use imaging testing such as a CT scan to help diagnose ovarian cancer. Additionally, blood tests not only can provide a snapshot of your overall health but also give your physician more information as he/she considers diagnosis and prognosis.
When new symptoms arise, or your health seems to not be where it once was, you should reach out to your physician. The Southwest General Medical Group, Inc. includes primary and specialty care physicians who can work closely with you to understand your symptoms so you can get the right treatment when you need it. To learn more about our services or request an appointment, visit our website.