With our new partnership with Ovarian Cancer Action, we believe it is important for all of our patients to be aware of the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer.
The most common symptoms of Ovarian cancer include:
- Persistent stomach pain;
- Persistent bloating;
- Finding it difficult to eat or feeling full quickly;
- and needing to wee more often.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms most days, we recommend you talk to your GP. You can use the ovarian cancer action symptoms diary to keep track of symptom. Do this when you first noticed them and each time they occur. That way, you can track any patterns.
Other symptoms include:
- Back pain;
- Changes in your bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation);
- Feeling tired all the time.
Could it be something else?
Other conditions can produce symptoms similar to ovarian cancer. These may cause you to worry that you’re at risk when it isn’t the case.
Conditions with similar conditions include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS);
- Ovarian cysts;
- and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a collection of unexplained symptoms. These symptoms relate to a disturbance of the colon or large intestine.
GPs commonly mistake ovarian cancer for IBS. This is because symptoms are similar. Consequently, women with IBS worry that their symptoms are due to ovarian cancer.
You should know that:
- IBS develops for the first time in patients in their 20’s and 30’s;
- If you develop IBS symptoms for the first time and you are in your 50’s, it is unlikely to be IBS;
- IBS symptoms come and go;
Eating particular foods and stress aggravates them. On the contrary, Ovarian cancer symptoms are persistent and not affected by diet or stress. If you have persistent stomach pain, bloating, find it difficult to eat, or feel full quickly – talk to your GP.
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that develop in the ovary. They can occur as part of a woman’s normal menstrual cycle in ovulation. Most women who have ovarian cysts don’t even know that they’re there. Occasionally, a cyst may grow big enough to cause symptoms similar to ovarian cancer.
Diagnosis of ovarian cysts is via a CA125 blood test and pelvic ultrasoun. This is the same way as ovarian cancer.
Treatment of ovarian cysts depends on their size and the symptoms.
Ovarian cysts that are 3-5cm in size don’t require any follow-up. They usually disappear within three months. However, Cysts that are 5-7cm should have a yearly ultrasound. Cysts larger than 7cm may need to surgical intervention to remove them.
Ovarian cysts are less common after menopause. This is because ovulation no longer happens. If ovarian cysts do occur after menopause that may cause a little bit of concern.
Ovarian cysts usually aren’t cancerous. However, your doctor may still want to carry out tests to rule out ovarian cancer.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS occurs when small, harmless cysts form on the surface of the ovary. PCOS cysts are sacs containing eggs that have not matured correctly. This is due to an imbalance in the body’s hormone levels. This imbalance prevents the egg from getting released each month, leading to infrequent ovulation.
Women with PCOS are sometimes worried that they have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. However, research does not indicate a link between PCOS and ovarian cancer.