Ovarian Cancer: Do You Know the Symptoms?
True or false:
A pap smear is a screening tool for ovarian cancer.
Bloating and indigestion can be symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Women in their 30’s are at the highest risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
Doctors and patients alike often miss ovarian cancer, because the symptoms can mimic those of gastrointestinal problems.
Common “digestive” symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:
- Bloating, distention, or enlargement of the abdomen
- Changes in bowel patterns, such as constipation or diarrhea
- Indigestion, gas, nausea
- Pelvic pain or abdominal pain
- Feeling full quickly, or other limitations in eating
Some other symptoms may also include:
- Urgent or frequent urination
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding or pain with intercourse
- Lack of energy, shortness of breath
If you’ve been dealing with chronic digestive ailments and you’re a woman, ask your doctor to rule out ovarian cancer. Testing for ovarian cancer can include a vaginal and/or rectal pelvic examination, a trans-vaginal ultrasound, a simple blood test (CA 125 blood test), and/or a CT scan or MRI.
With the increase in both frequency and diagnosis of Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), it’s easy for doctors to quickly assume abnormal bloating and digestive ailments are SIBO. That’s why when symptoms persist in my female patients, I often follow it up with a CA 125 blood test and a pelvic ultrasound – just to confirm we are in fact looking at a digestive disease and not something else.
Early Detection is Important
When ovarian cancer is diagnosed early, over 90% of women with the disease survive. So speak up if something doesn’t feel right, and be sure to see your doctor annually for your well woman exam.
- A pap smear is a screening tool for ovarian cancer. (FALSE, it’s a screening tool for cervical cancer)
- Bloating and indigestion can be symptoms of ovarian cancer. (TRUE, symptoms of ovarian cancer can mimic digestive disorders, and can include constipation or diarrhea, gas, nausea, and indigestion.)
- Women in their 30’s are at the highest risk of developing ovarian cancer. (FALSE. Nearly 90% of women diagnosed are 45 years of age or older).