What is Ovarian Cancer? Warning Signs Women Shouldn’t ignore.

Ovarian cancer can be tricky to diagnose at an early stage as there is no real screening test for its early detection. Besides, the symptoms are usually mistaken for ordinary gastrointestinal issues such as constipation or bloating.

Therefore, getting to know the warning signs and risk factors of ovarian cancer is your best defense against the disease.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Some of the common ovarian cancer symptoms include:

Abdominal or pelvic pain

Abdominal bloating

Difficulty eating/loss of appetite

Urinary urgency or frequency

You might also experience symptoms such as:

    •       Fatigue

            •           Upset stomach

            •           Back pain

            •           Painful sex

            •           Constipation

            •           Irregular periods changes 

Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer 

Ovarian cancer is usually diagnosed when a woman gets an ultrasound or CT scan for any other issue. All of this means diagnosis often comes late when cancer has advanced and possibly spread to other parts of the body. 

Pelvic exams and screenings like Pap and HPV (Human Papillomavirus) tests are generally used to find cervical cancer, but not ovarian cancer.  

Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is a leading cause of death from cancer in Indian women. It often occurs in women after menopause, with the possibility increasing with age. 

Other factors that may increase your risk include:

    •       Obesity or being overweight

            •           Having your first child after the age 35 

            •           Using hormone replacement therapy after menopause

            •           Family history of ovarian, breast, endometrial, or colorectal cancer

            •           Inherited gene mutations linked to cancers, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2

            •           Personal history of breast cancer

Factors Lowering the Risk of Ovarian Cancer

Women who give birth before age 26, breastfeed, take oral contraceptives, use a short-term IUD, or undergo pelvic surgeries such as the removal of ovaries and hysterectomy, etc., have a lower risk of ovarian cancer.

Be Proactive

Besides having an annual pelvic exam and knowing the risk factors and symptoms of ovarian cancer, get some simple blood tests such as CA-125 and HE4 (Human Epididymis Protein 4), especially if you are at risk of ovarian cancer.