Each year, about 20,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and about 14,500 of them will die from this disease. Even though ovarian cancer accounts for only 3% of all cancer cases for women, that does not mean the lives of victims, their family members, and their loved ones are not changed forever as a result of battling this form of cancer.
September is ovarian cancer awareness month, and knowledge of the signs and symptoms of this disease is especially important because, unlike other cancers, there is currently no screening test for ovarian cancer. This means that the only way to detect if a woman has this disease is to perform a diagnostic test, such as a transvaginal ultrasound or a rectovaginal pelvic exam, and the only way doctors can know if they should perform a test is by having patients who recognize the symptoms of ovarian cancer early on.
Please contact your doctor if you notice any of the following signs or symptoms that are associated with ovarian cancer and they seem to persist:
- Quickly feeling full while eating
- Pain and/or pressure in your abdominal or pelvic area
- Back pain
- Irregular bathroom habits – urgent or more frequent needs to go to the bathroom, constipation, or diarrhea
- Irregular vaginal bleeding or discharge (see a doctor right away)
Ultimately, you need to get to know your body and know what’s normal for you, and if you experience unusual symptoms, talk to your doctor. All of these symptoms for ovarian cancer can be caused by other health issues, but the only way to truly know what’s wrong is to see a doctor.
If you do have ovarian cancer, there are several different treatment options available to you, and those treatments will be most effective if the cancer is detected early. The most common form of treatment for ovarian cancer is a combination of chemotherapy and surgery, but radiation is also sometimes used.
If you think you should speak with a doctor about ovarian cancer or any other health issues, you can search for a doctor or specialist close to you using Meritage Medical Network’s “Find a doctor” feature on their homepage. Remember that just because you are experiencing symptoms associated with cancer does not mean that you necessarily have this disease. Speaking with a health care professional can help determine why you aren’t feeling well, and they can help determine a treatment plan that works for you.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, September 2). Gynecologic cancers. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/gynecologic/index.htm