Researchers from the University of Washington carried out a study on women to try to identify the early indications associated with ovarian cancer. The study investigated women with and without ovarian cancer and has been published in the medical journal Cancer.
The women participated in a questionnaire which asked about indigestion, constipation, bleeding after menopause and back pain which can be linked to ovarian cancer in women. It found that women with ovarian cancer reported suffering one or more of six symptoms and what is more, some also reported an occurrence of the symptoms on 12 or more occasions per month. The following symptoms were defined as per the study:
Abdominal or pelvic pain with pressure, swelling or discomfort
Having to urinate more often
Having no warning of the need to urinate
Always feeling full
However the following symptoms, in addition to the above may also be linked to cancer; feeling pain when having sexual intercourse, always feeling tired, bowel habits changing for no apparent reason, any changes to weight, again without reason and any unusual bleeding from the vaginal area including excessive periods or periods which are becoming longer.
Pain in the pelvis area may not always be encountered if you have cancer of the ovaries but there are many signs related to this form of cancer.
Although unusual vaginal bleeding can sometimes be associated with ovarian cancer, it’s quite rare, it is more likely to be related to another type of abnormality, as bleeding may happen in between menstrual periods. The occurrence of a normal menstrual bleed which is heavier than normally experienced, and menstrual bleeding which lasts for a longer time than it usually does, are considered unusual signs.
Woman should be aware of the warning signs of ovarian cancer and make sure they see a physician if symptoms are not going away. Finding out you have cancer of the ovaries sooner rather than later allows for a better chance of treatment which will be successful and therefore survival. Women aged 18 or over should have their pelvis examined on a yearly basis, as signs of cancer of the ovaries are not initially obvious and indications often only present themselves when the cancer has developed further.
Although the symptoms stated above may relate to ovarian cancer (one of the six signs were shown to have occurred in women with ovarian cancer), it is worth noting they can also be an indication of a benign (non-cancerous) condition or another condition. This is why it is important to see your physician on an annual basis for an examination of the pelvis. Prior to your physician screening for ovarian cancer, they will rule out more common problems in the first instance before the screening for the ovarian cancer takes place.
From the results of the study, a consensus statement, the first ever, was released in June 2007 by the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation, the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, and American Cancer Society on ovarian cancer symptoms. The result was an accord agreeing which indications should be considered as linked with ovarian cancer. In conclusion, all adult females over 18 years are recommended to visit their physician or gynecologist for an examination of the pelvis area to determine if ovarian cancer is present or not.