Ovarian cancer is a disease affecting one or both of a woman’s ovaries, which are located on either side of the uterus. In the United States alone, more than 25,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and 16,000 die of the disease every year.
Early detection of ovarian cancer is key to survival. Symptoms, however, are difficult to detect and usually mimic those of other diseases and conditions. In fact, doctors once believed there were no symptoms of ovarian cancer. As a result, only 29% of cases are detected before the cancer has spread to other areas of the body. Therefore, it is important for women to be aware of these symptoms in order to take control of their health and prevent ovarian cancer from spreading.
According to research, women with ovarian cancer often experience feelings of urinary urgency and discomfort or pain in the pelvis. They also may experience bloating, abdominal pressure, swelling, or a general feeling of fullness. Unlike other diseases or disorders with similar symptoms, ovarian cancer causes sufferers to experience these symptoms on a consistent basis.
There are several additional symptoms associated with ovarian cancer. For example, the sufferer may experience loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss or gain. Her clothes may also start feeling tighter around the waist as the size of her abdomen increases. A woman with ovarian cancer may also experience lower back pain and pain during intercourse.
A woman with ovarian cancer may also have difficulty with urination and bowel movements. In addition to an increased need to urinate, she may have unexplained constipation or diarrhea, gas, nausea, and indigestion. She might also experience an unexplained continued lack of energy.
The majority of ovarian tumors develop in the epithelium, a thick layer of tissue covering the ovaries. Ovarian cancer may also develop in the germ cells, where the eggs are produced, or in the stromal tissue, where estrogen and progesterone are produced.
Researchers are unsure of the cause of ovarian cancer. Some believe it has to do with the repair process that takes place in the tissue after a woman’s menstrual period. At this time, a small tear occurs in the ovarian follicle and forms new cells. According to the theory, this makes it easier for genetic errors to occur.