Ovarian Cancer is Not Silent: What Are 3 Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?

The most dangerous type of gynecologic tumour is ovarian cancer. Less than 40% of people with ovarian cancer are cured, and the disease kills about 12,810 people in the U.S. every year.

Scientists have been looking for a screening test for ovarian cancer for the past 25 years. They want to find a way to find it early when it is easier to treat. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of people have taken part in clinical trials, but none of them has found a good way to check for ovarian cancer. Even so, U.S. In 2018, the Preventive Services Task Force gave ovarian cancer screening a grade of D, which means it doesn’t recommend it because it doesn’t help people live longer and can hurt them.

Because there isn’t a good screening test for ovarian cancer yet, 70% of people find out they have it when it’s too late to be cured. About 60% to 90% of people with stage one or two cancer that stays around the ovaries and pelvis are disease-free five years after being diagnosed. Only 10% to 40% of people with stage three or four cancer that has spread through the abdomen and beyond are disease-free after five years.

But even people with advanced disease have a better chance of getting better if the disease can still be removed completely through surgery. This makes it even more important to get a diagnosis early if you want to live longer.

Many doctors wrongly think that ovarian cancer can’t be found early because there aren’t any screening tests. As a gynecologic oncologist who treats hundreds of women with ovarian cancer every year, I was frustrated by these late diagnoses and wondered if a better understanding of the symptoms could help doctors and patients find ovarian cancer earlier.


Detectable symptoms

In the past, doctors thought that ovarian cancer was a “silent killer” because its symptoms were hard to spot. Doctors often didn’t find out what was wrong with a patient until it was too late.

But many studies over the past 20 years have shown that there are signs of ovarian cancer that can be seen early on. In 2000, my coworkers and I did one of the first studies. Our survey of 1,700 people with ovarian cancer showed that 95% of them had noticeable symptoms three to 12 months before they were diagnosed. Most people had pain in their pelvis and abdomen, a strong need to urinate more often, trouble eating or feeling full quickly, and bloating or distension of the abdomen.

Ovarian Cancer is Not Silent
Ovarian Cancer is Not Silent

People with both advanced and early stages of the disease said they had the same kinds of symptoms. Researchers have since done more studies that confirm patients with even early-stage ovarian cancer have a lot of symptoms.

We also found that health care providers often mistook ovarian cancer for something else. When we asked patients what their doctors said caused their symptoms, 15% said it was irritable bowel disease, 12% said it was stress, 9% said it was gastritis, 6% said it was constipation, 6% said it was depression, and 4% said it was something else. Thirty per cent were treated for something other than what they had. And 13% of them were told that nothing was wrong.

One of the biggest problems has been telling the symptoms of ovarian cancer apart from those of common digestive and urinary problems. In another study, my team and I found that ovarian cancer patients have symptoms that started within the last month and happen more than half of the time each month.

To help find ovarian cancer early, my team and I compared the symptoms of people with ovarian cancer to those of people without ovarian cancer. We made an index that showed six important signs of ovarian cancer: bloating, a bigger stomach, feeling full quickly, trouble eating, pain in the pelvis, and pain in the stomach. The symptoms had to happen more than 12 times per month and last less than a year.

Based on these criteria, our index was able to find ovarian cancer in 60% to 85% of the patients in our study, which is about the same range as diagnostic blood tests for ovarian cancer.

Preventing ovarian cancer

Even though early detection is important, there are also things you can do to lower your chances of getting ovarian cancer.

If someone in your family has had ovarian cancer, tell your doctor. He or she may suggest genetic testing to fully figure out your risk or preventive surgery to stop cancer from happening.

Ovarian cancer risk goes down with oral contraceptives, tubal ligation (surgery to close the fallopian tubes), pregnancy, and breastfeeding.

Lastly, the fallopian tubes may be the source of up to 70% of ovarian cancers. One way to lower the risk of ovarian cancer is to have the fallopian tubes taken out at the same time as another surgery. This should only be done if you don’t want to get pregnant again.

 Please tell your friends and family about our adventure if you find it interesting. To do this, visit journalization.org

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