Ovarian Cancer: 6 Warning Signs You Should Not Ignore

Ovarian Cancer: 6 Warning Signs You Should Not Ignore | UPMC Italy

Ovarian cancer, if detected early, can be successfully treated, with a 90 percent survival rate at five years. However, early signs of the disease may be overlooked by delaying diagnosis until the tumor has already reached an advanced stage. This happens because ovarian cancer, in many cases, progresses asymptomatically or presents with general symptoms such as urinary, gastrointestinal complaints, or abdominal swelling.

There are currently no specific screening programs for this condition. However, it is advisable to have an annual gynecological examination and, if the specialist deems it appropriate, a transvaginal ultrasound. These precautions can aid early detection, just as it is important to be aware of the potential symptoms of ovarian cancer. Let's look at the main signs.

First Possible Signs of Ovarian Cancer

  • Abdominal swelling. Ovarian cancer can cause an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the pelvis or abdomen (ascites), creating a feeling of discomfort and swelling.
  • Increased urinary urgency. As it grows, the tumor may cause the feeling of having a full bladder often. If you experience bladder spasms or urinary urgency, you should contact a specialist to investigate the source.
  • Persistent pain in the back, pelvis, or abdomen. Cancerous masses may exert pressure on nearby organs, causing pain or pulsation. If the tumor has spread, pain may also occur in surrounding areas.
  • Changes in bowel habits. Constipation and diarrhea may occur. When the tumor exerts pressure on the intestines, stools may become thinner.
  • Decreased appetite or difficulty eating. Nausea, decreased appetite, or a feeling of having a "full stomach" can all be early signs of ovarian cancer. While an occasional "full stomach feeling" may not be indicative of more serious problems, a prolonged loss of appetite (especially when associated with the other symptoms of ovarian cancer) may be cause for concern.
  • Fatigue and exhaustion are the most commonly reported symptoms. They may depend on lack of nutrition due to decreased appetite, or they may be caused by the tumor itself, but fatigue and exhaustion should not be ignored.

Learn more about UPMC's Gynecology Services and schedule a visit with our specialists.