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Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

Dr. Lisa Lawless

Dr. Lisa Lawless, CEO of Holistic Wisdom
Clinical Psychotherapist: Relationship & Sexual Health Expert

Ovarian Cancer Ribbon

Women's Reproductive Cancers

Cancer in a woman's reproductive organs is called gynecologic cancer. There are six types: vulvar, cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and fallopian tube cancer. Below are some statistics of those cancers:

  • Vulvar cancer is primarily in older women, with more than half of cases occurring in women over age 70. The 5-year survival rate for those with vulvar cancer is about 70%.

  • Cervical cancer is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 35 and 44. The 5-year survival rate for those with cervical cancer is 66%.

  • Vaginal cancer is more common in those over the age of 60, with over half of cases in those 70 years old or older. The average 5-year survival rate is 49%.

  • Fallopian tube cancer is very rare and typically affects those between 50 and 60 who have not been pregnant. The general 5-year survival rate is 93%.

  • Uterine cancer most often occurs in women over 50, and the five-year survival rate is 81%.

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is typically diagnosed in women 55 to 64 years old, and there is a higher risk associated with obesity. Almost half (46.2%) of those with ovarian cancer are still alive at least five years after diagnosis. 

Ovarian cancer is a silent killer, which includes increased bloating and abdominal size, pressure to urinate, constipation, and abdominal pain. These easily overlooked symptoms can be the difference between early detection and losing your life from this terrible disease. Women must be aware of this cluster of symptoms to detect early ovarian cancer.

It doesn't mean that you have ovarian cancer if you have these symptoms, but the symptoms should be investigated to see what it is. Even if it is not a malignancy, it could be something else, such as an ovarian cyst or endometriosis.

Ovarian cancer is highly undetectable through symptoms in the early stages, and any symptoms are usually vague, nonspecific, and doctors tend to blow them off. Many women see numerous doctors for their symptoms, including gastrointestinal specialists, before suspected ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, the symptoms are most noticeable when cancer is advanced, and the chances of death are high. When the mass in the ovary is significant in size, that is when symptoms are more intense and often too late.

Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are common in most women, so it is difficult to know if what you are experiencing is normal, but one of the critical things to keep in mind is that they will often follow a pattern, happen daily and do not go away, start suddenly and may feel different than regular menstrual or digestive issues.

If you have any of these symptoms for more than 2 or 3 weeks, be sure to see your physician:

  • Bloating

  • Pain in your abdomen

  • Difficulty eating and/or feeling full quickly

  • A need to urinate more than usual or a feeling of urgency to urinate

  • Women need to have strong communication with their doctors and ask questions that empower them.

  • Women know their bodies, and when something changes, they need to make sure the physician is aggressive in evaluating it.

 In Closing

Seeking out support, becoming educated and finding helpful resources can be essential to addressing and dealing with cancer. For additional information, please see our guide: Sex With Cancer.

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