Education & Research

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

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Symptoms and Detection of Ovarian Cancer

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

For years, women have known that ovarian cancer was not the silent killer it was said to be. Over the past decade, science has confirmed what women have long known: ovarian cancer has symptoms.

Women with ovarian cancer report that symptoms are persistent and represent a change from normal for their bodies. The frequency and/or number of such symptoms are key factors in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Several studies show that even early stage ovarian cancer can produce these symptoms.

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)

See your doctor, preferably a gynecologist, if you have these symptoms more than 12 times during the course of one month and the symptoms are new or unusual for you.In 2007, the Alliance and other leading cancer organizations endorsed a consensus statement on ovarian cancer symptoms.

As medical research continues to investigate this important issue, numerous studies have been published indicating that symptoms may not occur until late stage or that they may not improve health outcomes.  The Alliance believes that symptoms are important, but they are not a definitive diagnostic tool.  Since there is no diagnostic tool for ovarian cancer, symptom awareness remains of key importance.  Being aware of symptoms can help women get diagnosed sooner. Early stage diagnosis is associated with an improved prognosis.

Other Symptoms Associated with Ovarian Cancer Several other symptoms have been commonly reported by women with ovarian cancer. These symptoms include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation and menstrual irregularities. However, these other symptoms are not as useful in identifying ovarian cancer because they are also found in equal frequency in women in the general population who do not have ovarian cancer (courtesy of Ovarian Cancer National Alliance).

Click here for more information on risk factors and statistics.

 

 

 


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Gynecologic Conditions

A wide variety of benign (non-cancerous) conditions may affect a woman’s reproductive system, which consists of the uterus, vagina, ovaries and fallopian tubes. Most of these conditions affect the uterus, which is the hollow, muscular organ that holds a baby as it grows inside of a pregnant woman. Common types of gynecologic conditions – such as fibroids (non-cancerous growths in the uterine wall), endometriosis (non-cancerous growths of the uterine lining) or prolapse (falling or slipping of the uterus) – can cause chronic pain and heavy bleeding, as well as other disabling symptoms.

When medication and other treatments are unable to relieve symptoms, hysterectomy – the surgical removal of the uterus – is often recommended to provide a more effective, definitive, long-term solution. In fact, this procedure is the second most common surgical procedure for women in the United States, and an estimated one third of all U.S. women will have a hysterectomy by age 60.1

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