I always thought of Ovarian Cancer as a "silent killer". In fact, this page is a great resource. In fact, while it was historically thought to be silent due to vague symptoms that resemble other female issues (menstruation, infection, menopause, etc.), the key is the persistence of the symptoms, rather than just the experience.
These lists are taken from the website found HERE:
- There are NO effective pre-screening tools for ovarian cancer and a pap smear will NOT detect it.
- Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women.
- In 2011, it is estimated that 26,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 15,000 women will die from the disease.
- Approximately 174,236 women living in the United States currently have ovarian cancer or have a history of ovarian cancer. Women are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. Only 19% of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region. Despite aggressive surgical intervention and new chemotherapeutic regimens, the overall 5-year survival rate for women with advanced stage ovarian cancer has remained constant over the past 30 years, at approximately 15%. However, when ovarian cancer is detected and treated early on, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.
The symptoms are generally subtle and vague so that women ignore them.The key is that the symptoms last more than 2-3 weeks and are otherwise unexplained. 90% of women with ovarian cancer reported having some of the following symptoms:
- Digestive problems: gas, flatulence, bloating, loss of appetite, occasionally abdominal pain.
- Abdominal pressure or discomfort.
- Changes in bowel and bladder habits (e.g. urinary frequency, diarrhea, constipation).
- Pain (less common) in the lower back, pelvis or legs.
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding.
- Unusual fatigue or backaches.
- Unexplained weight loss or gain.
- Shortness of breath.
- Increasing waist line size, for no obvious reason.