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Spotting Danger: 5 Silent Signs of Ovarian Cancer Every Woman Should Know | health news


According to Globocan data, ovarian cancer ranks as the third most common cancer among Indian women, with about 44,000 cases diagnosed annually. Recognized for its aggressiveness, ovarian cancer carries a high risk of death, often diagnosed at an advanced stage (III or IV). The challenge lies in its rapid growth and presentation of non-specific symptoms, leading to late detection.

Often referred to as a “silent killer”, it subtly whispers its presence. Alertness, symptom awareness, and prompt reporting are crucial. Although symptoms vary, early detection is possible by recognizing and acting on the common indicators of ovarian cancer.

Dr. Sampada Desai Consultant – Gynecological Cancer and Robotic Surgeon PD Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Center shares five symptoms of ovarian cancer that one needs to watch out for.

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1. Abdominal Bloating:

A persistent and unexplained feeling of fullness in the abdomen, explains Dr. Desai. This sensation may be caused by an ovarian tumor, an enlarged organ, or fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Although swelling can stem from a variety of conditions, its persistence warrants medical evaluation. Early detection increases the success of treatment, making it important to consult a healthcare professional if experiencing any symptoms.

2. Difficulty eating:

Difficulty eating, especially feeling full quickly or struggling to eat small portions, can be a symptom of ovarian cancer, shares Dr. Desai. Timely medical consultation is essential for a comprehensive evaluation, accurate diagnosis and prompt initiation of necessary interventions.

3. Abdominal/pelvic discomfort or pain:

Chronic discomfort or pain in the lower abdomen is due to the mass effect of the tumor or irritation of the surrounding organs by the tumor, explains Dr. Desai. Ovarian cancer causes lower abdominal or pelvic discomfort arising from ovarian growth or the presence of a tumor, leading to chronic or severe pain. The location is usually in the lower abdomen and the severity varies. This pain can be caused by pressure on nearby organs, inflammation or stretching of the ovarian capsule.

4. Changes in bowel and bladder habits:

Changes in bowel and bladder habits, such as frequent urination, feelings of incomplete bowel emptying, or difficulty passing stool, can signal ovarian cancer, shares Dr. Desai. Tumors in the pelvic region can put pressure on the bladder, causing an increased urge to urinate. The effects of ovarian cancer on the gastrointestinal tract can lead to incomplete bowel movements or a feeling of constipation.

5. Fatigue:

Fatigue in ovarian cancer stems from the energy demands of the cancer cells, possible anemia due to low red blood cell counts, and side effects of treatments like chemotherapy, explains Dr. Desai. Cancer growth taxes the body’s resources, contributing to constant fatigue. Anemia worsens fatigue because fewer red blood cells deliver less oxygen.

All of these symptoms are subtle and can easily be attributed to other common problems. However, if these symptoms persist, it is best to see your doctor.

Preventive measures to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer

Early diagnosis significantly improves the cure rate of ovarian cancer, shares Dr. Desai, but unfortunately, many cases are detected at an advanced stage. Nevertheless, proactive measures such as regular checkups after age 40, increased awareness of symptoms, and timely consultation with an ovarian cancer specialist, preferably a gynecologic oncologist, may be important.

Taking these measures makes a significant difference in detecting and treating the earliest, most treatable stages of ovarian cancer, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome.