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What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

by on March 23, 2012

So, how did you do on that quiz? If you’re like me, a perfect score eluded you… and some of the ones you did get right were just a lucky guess. Let’s learn together, shall we? Next time we can earn that A+ that all true nerds (like me) really desire.

Today’s topic? Symptoms. While ovarian cancer is often referred to as the silent killer, there are symptoms. Research shows that most women with ovarian cancer do experience symptoms. The tricky part is knowing what to look for, as the symptoms of ovarian cancer can mimic other diseases.  There are four primary symptoms:

  1. Bloating
  2. Pelvic or abdominal pain
  3. Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  4. Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)

There is currently no diagnostic tool for ovarian cancer, so symptom awareness is key to catching the disease as early as possible.  (Other symptoms have been reported, such as fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation and menstrual irregularities; however, these are not as useful for diagnosis.)

So how do you know when the symptoms above are related to ovarian cancer and not something else? The frequency and number of the symptoms may be a clue – they may be persistent and a change from the norm. If you have these symptoms daily for more than a few weeks, it may be time to give your doctor (preferably your gynecologist) a call.

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance has created a handy tool to help you keep track of any possible symptoms – it’s called the Symptom Diary, and you can download a PDF of it here. You can even track your symptoms online if that’s more your speed. (To download an app for your smart phone, go to diary.ovariancancer.org on your phone’s browser and log in. You can then add the web app to your phone’s home screen. To see a video about the app, click here.)

-A.J.

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4 Comments
  1. I like the idea about using an app to keep track. I’ve got multiple issues going on with 3 separate diseases and I certainly keep my doctors on their toes. The most difficult part of communication is my less-than-stellar ability to describe what is going on. Even a notebook by my bed would help so I could jot observations made each day. Thanks for the article, AJ!

  2. I like the idea about using an app to keep track. I’ve got multiple issues going on with 3 separate diseases and I certainly keep my doctors on their toes. The most difficult part of communication is my less-than-stellar ability to describe what is going on. Even a notebook by my bed would help so I could jot down observations made each day. Thanks for the article, AJ!

    • wantmorepuppies permalink

      You’re very welcome! I know I find it very difficult to keep track of what is going on with my body unless I take the time to document it. As you mentioned, even a notebook by the bed would be helpful – the process needs to be easy or I’ll end up forgetting to do it.

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  1. What are the realities of ovarian cancer? « Sisterhood of the Whispering Crowns

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