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Don’t Overlook These Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

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For years, ovarian cancer was known as a “silent”
disease with few obvious symptoms. But years of research has shown that there
are four key symptoms all women should be aware of – and 10 others that are
often overlooked.

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, focusing public
attention on what the American
Cancer Society says is the fifth leading cause of cancer among women.
This year, nearly 22,000 women, mostly over age 40, will be diagnosed with
ovarian cancer.

Nicholas C. Lambrou, M.D., chief of gynecologic oncology, Miami Cancer Institute

“Primary symptoms of ovarian cancer include bloating, pain
in your pelvis or abdomen, difficulty eating or a sensation of quickly feeling
full, and feeling the need to urgently urinate and/or urinate more frequently,”
says Nicholas
C. Lambrou
, M.D., chief of gynecologic oncology at Miami Cancer Institute. “If
the symptoms are new, occur more than 12 times a month, and/or don’t dissipate
when changing the environment through diet or exercise, then you should see
your doctor.”

And what about the overlooked symptoms? Dr. Lambrou says
the reason these are so often overlooked is that most people experience at
least some of these symptoms from time to time and attribute them to something
else.

“When you look at these symptoms, it’s easy to see why
they might be dismissed as being caused by something else,” Dr. Lambrou says. “Most
people would probably say they’ve been working too hard, not getting enough
sleep, eating too much or not eating enough of the right foods. Ovarian cancer
is the last thing that comes to mind.”

The 10 Most Overlooked Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer:

  1. Easily fatigued/tiredness
  2. Pain during intercourse
  3. Upset stomach or heartburn
  4. Persistent or worsening constipation
  5. Abdominal enlargement or swelling
  6. Abdominal fullness and pain
  7. Changes in bowel or bladder habits
  8. Unintentional weight loss or weight gain
  9. Clothes not fitting well
  10. Feeling full after eating very little

Dr. Lambrou is quick to remind Resource readers that ovarian cancer can be curable but, as with most types of cancer, earlier detection leads to better outcomes. “With ovarian cancer, genetic screening and yearly pelvic exams are key,” he says. “And if you are diagnosed with it, make sure you share this with other members of your family because they may also be at risk.”

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