Ovarian cancer • Ovary • Pain
June 25, 2022 0 Comments
There are few signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer in its early stage, which has led to it being called the “silent killer.”
However, researchers have recently discovered that people with early stage ovarian cancer do often experience symptoms. These symptoms are typically subtle, vague, and can be easily dismissed as the result of other factors.
Currently, ovarian cancer cannot be screened. Advanced stages are usually detected only.
Early and later symptoms of ovarian cancer are discussed in this article. A doctor should be consulted if you experience any of the complications of ovarian cancer.
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Cancer of the Ovarian Reproductive System Early Symptoms
Patients often look back after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer and realize they had unrecognized symptoms. Doctors wouldn’t have recommended a visit due to the symptoms being too mild or vague.
In the early stages of ovarian cancer, there are four symptoms that can appear. Some of these symptoms can be mild and vague.
It is crucial to detect cancer early. Discuss any symptoms you are experiencing with your doctor.
Bloating and swelling of the abdomen are common in most people. Premenstrual syndrome is most common before and after eating large meals.
Persistent bleeding, however, could indicate ovarian cancer.
Mild to severe bloating may accompany this condition. It often occurs on a daily basis and becomes more severe over time. Some people experience mild indigestion as well.
It is possible for this symptom to be subtle. Although you haven’t gained any weight, you might feel tight in your clothes around your waistline.
Take a look in the mirror. You might see visible bloating. You might even develop stretch marks. This is particularly common if you have never been pregnant before.
Many people dismiss bleeding as a symptom of early ovarian cancer. It’s possible that you think it’s because of your age, menopause, or weight gain. If you feel bloated for more than a day or two, you should be concerned.
Pelvic Pain or Pressure
Menstrual cramps similar to pelvic pain can also indicate early ovarian cancer5. Like bloating, occasional pelvic pain is common, especially during menstruation. Because of this, it is often overlooked.
If you have persistent pelvic pain accompanied by a feeling of pressure in your pelvis, you should see your doctor.
Your pelvis may be painful on one side. You may also feel pain all over your pelvis.
Eating quickly makes you feel full
The majority of people with early ovarian cancer notice that they feel full more quickly than normal after eating an average-sized meal6. This sensation may also occur between meals. Gas or indigestion may also occur.
More advanced ovarian cancers are often accompanied by weight loss. It can be associated with the feeling of fullness as an early symptom.
In addition to more frequent urination, ovarian cancer can also present as an early symptom. A sense of urgency may also accompany your need to leave.
The pressure on the bladder may be due to a tumor. Some tumors can cause hormone changes as well.
Additionally, some patients feel a strong urge to urinate, but once seated realize that they do not need to relieve themselves.
Cancer of the ovary can have subtle early symptoms. There are probably other causes of your symptoms. Nevertheless, it is imperative to see a doctor to rule out ovarian cancer.
How Ovarian Cancer Is Diagnosed and Treated
Symptoms of advanced ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer symptoms typically arise only when the tumor has reached an advanced stage.8 Again, there are many potential causes of these symptoms. Consult your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.
Changing bowel habits
Observe this symptom most closely. Colon cancer may also exhibit this symptom.
Constipation and diarrhea can both affect bowel habits.9 Stools may also become thinner. Tumors put pressure on the bowel.
Tumors can cause bowel obstruction in late stages of ovarian cancer. Here are some symptoms:
Pain in the abdomen that is getting increasingly painful and crampy
Dyspareunia is pain during intercourse. It is associated with ovarian cancer. There are also other conditions that can cause this symptom such as pelvic inflammatory disease.
Pain usually occurs on one side more than the other, but it can also be generalized. Symptoms resemble menstrual cramps. The symptoms may begin during an encounter and continue afterward.
Sex that is painful can be a sign of various physical conditions. In addition to being a source of stress, it can also strain relationships.
Consult your doctor if you experience any discomfort or pain during sexual activity.
Having back pain
There may be pain in the lower back or flanks. On the body, the flank is roughly between the rib cage and the hip.
When you have lower back pain that is not caused by activities such as heavy lifting, talk to your doctor. It may feel similar to menstrual pain or the early stages of labor.
Weight Gain or Weight Loss Unintentionally
Often, ovarian cancer patients gain weight quickly. Fluid builds up in the abdomen.
Weight loss may be caused by a variety of factors. It may be caused by feeling full earlier in the day and losing appetite.
Cancer cachexia may contribute to more advanced cancers. A person suffering from this syndrome loses weight, loses muscle mass, and loses appetite.
Weight loss that is unintentional occurs when the body loses at least 5% of its weight in a 6- to 12-month period.
A 150-pound woman losing 7.5 pounds over a six-month period without diet or exercise would be an example of unexplained weight loss.
It is always pertinent to evaluate unintentional weight loss. This can also be caused by other serious conditions besides ovarian cancer.
Over a third of people who experience unexpected weight loss have an underlying cancer, according to studies.
Fluid in the abdominal cavity (ascites)
There is also another form of abdominal swelling known as ascites. This can occur in more advanced stages of ovarian cancer.13 Ascites occurs when large amounts of fluid accumulate in the abdomen.
In case of liver or abdominal cancer, ascites occurs. It must be drained.
If the fluid pushes upward on the lungs, ascites can also cause shortness of breath.
The most common cancer symptom is fatigue. It can also be a symptom of a wide range of other medical conditions, however.
Fatigue associated with cancer tends to be different from ordinary fatigue. Even after a good night’s sleep or a cup of coffee, it persists.
Cancerous cells compete for energy with healthy cells as ovarian cancer advances. As a result, fatigue occurs.
Symptoms of later stage ovarian cancer include fluid in the abdomen and fatigue.
Germ cell or stromal cell tumor symptoms
Germ cell tumors or sex cord stromal tumors are often found in younger patients with ovarian cancer. Patients may exhibit the symptoms described above, as well as other symptoms.
Menstruation may be caused by tumors that produce male hormones. Male pattern hair growth and a lowering of the voice can be symptoms.
The symptoms are often seen in stromal ovarian tumors called Sertoli-Leydig cell tumors16.
Vaginal Bleeding or Discharge
It is also possible to experience vaginal discharge. A clear, yellow, or blood-tinged discharge is possible. It may also bleed like a period.
In women with stromal cell tumors, abnormal vaginal bleeding is common. Tumors secrete estrogen, which is associated with the disease.
Females of reproductive age should consult a doctor if they experience bleeding before their first period, after menopause, or during their cycle. There are many possible causes.
Precocious puberty is early puberty. Girls may experience it as a result of estrogen-secreting tumors. Most often, it occurs with germ cell and stromal cell tumors.
Symptoms may also include:
Early development of the breast
Pubic hair development
The onset of the first period is early
Pelvic pain that is severe
Symptoms of ovarian cancer include mild pelvic pain and pressure. Severe pain may be a sign of ovarian cancer.
A tumor in the ovary can cause the ovary to twist around the fallopian tube. Torsion is what causes this. Germ cell and stromal cell tumors are more likely to develop this type of tumor.
Blood vessels supplying the ovary may be cut off when this occurs. Pain, bleeding, and infection are common symptoms of a lack of blood supply.
Females and young girls are more likely to have a pelvic mass when they have germ cell or stromal cancers. Sometimes it is the first sign of cancer.
Tumors and cysts of the ovary can grow to quite large sizes before they cause symptoms.
Complications of ovarian cancer
Other complications can occur as a result of ovarian cancer. It occurs most often when the cancer has spread to the abdomen and lungs.19
Many people have few or none of these complications. Still, if you experience any symptoms, you should seek medical attention.
Obstruction of the bowels
When cancer spreads to the abdomen and pelvis, obstructions of the bowel can occur. Additionally, scar tissue may form after abdominal or pelvic surgery. This includes ovarian cancer surgery.
There can be kinks and twists in the bowel due to scar tissue. Obstruction can result. Obstruction symptoms include:
Painful, crampy abdominal cramps
The affected parts of the intestine are often removed by surgery. Tube feeding is usually temporary after surgery. This allows the bowel to heal.
Ovarian cancer often spreads to the intestines. Over time, the tissue may weaken. Perforation of the bowel may result.
The contents of the bowel leak into the abdominal cavity when the bowel is perforated. The infection is called peritonitis20. Surgery may be necessary to bypass the diseased area of the bowel.
A later stage of ovarian cancer can cause bowel problems such as obstruction or perforation.
Urinary Retention or Blockage
Cancer of the ovary can spread to the pelvis. The kidney-to-bladder tubes may be blocked by ovarian cancer. Ureters are these tubes.
When both ureters are blocked, urine output drops. A blocked ureter could cause severe pain. A blockage may also not cause pain, depending on its location.
It may be necessary to place a stent to resolve the blockage. Stents hold the ureter open.
Effusion of pleural fluid
It is possible for fluid to build up between the membranes lining the lungs when the cancer has spread to those areas. These membranes are known as pleura.
Cancer cells can sometimes be found in this fluid. A pleural effusion containing cancer cells is known as malignant pleural effusion.22
Thoracentesis can be used to drain the fluid. To perform this procedure, a needle is inserted through the skin on the chest into the pleural cavity.
Pleural effusions often recur in cancer patients.
Stents can be placed to allow continuous drainage. Pleurodesis can also be performed. Chemicals are used to dissolve the layers. This leads to the membranes scarring together, preventing additional fluid buildup.
Pain in the bones
Cancer that spreads to the bones can cause pain. It can be quite severe. Fortunately, there are treatments that can help, including:
Drugs that modify bone
When to See a Healthcare Professional
Ovarian cancer symptoms are often vague and subtle at first. It is usually possible for each of these symptoms to be caused by other, less harmful conditions.
A 2016 review of studies looked at the symptoms of early ovarian cancer.24 It found that the symptoms most likely to indicate ovarian cancer included:
A mass of abdominal fat
Distention of the abdomen or an increase in circumference
Pelvic or abdominal pain
Bloating in the abdomen or pelvis
Consult a doctor if you have any symptoms that persist for more than a few days. If you are experiencing symptoms similar to those listed above, this is especially relevant.
Healthcare Provider Discussion Guide for Ovarian Cancer
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Listen to your body if you have a normal exam, but your body is still telling you something is wrong. Get a second opinion or follow up.
Ovarian cancer can be cured or treated in the early stages so that a very low probability of relapse exists.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer can be vague and difficult to diagnose. Symptoms to watch for include persistent bloating, pelvic pain or pressure, feeling full after eating, or needing to urinate more frequently or urgently.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer at a later stage may include changes in bowel habits, discomfort during intercourse, back pain, unintentional weight loss, and fatigue.
Other symptoms of ovarian cancer include masculinization, abnormal bleeding, early puberty or severe pelvic pain. The presence of a pelvic mass is another common symptom of these types of cancer.
Ovarian cancer complications may include bowel obstruction, perforated colon, urinary problems, fluid in the lungs, and bone pain.
If you notice any signs of ovarian cancer, even if they are subtle, you should see your doctor. It is likely that your symptoms have a different cause. When they are related to ovarian cancer, though, early detection can save your life.
QUESTIONS ASKED OFTEN
How long does ovarian cancer survive?
Various types of ovarian cancer exist. They all have different survival rates. Five-year survival rates for invasive epithelial ovarian cancer are 48% on average. The five-year survival rate for breast stromal tumors is 88% and 93%, respectively.
What is the diagnosis of ovarian cancer?
A diagnosis entails:
Examining the pelvis
Ultrasound and CT scans are imaging tests
Testing for tumor markers in blood
What is the treatment for ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer may be treated with surgery. Surgeons remove cancerous tissue during surgery. Radiation or chemotherapy may also be used, depending on the stage. Certain medications can also slow the growth of cancer. These include PARP inhibitors and angiogenesis inhibitors.