Even in its early stages, ovarian cancer has symptoms. Research indicates that 95 percent of women with ovarian cancer had symptoms and 90 percent of women experienced symptoms with early-stage ovarian cancer. Symptoms vary from woman to woman and many times depend on the location of the tumor and its impact on the surrounding organs. Many of the symptoms mimic other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.
The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation, the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, and the American Cancer Society, with significant support from the Alliance, formed a consensus statement on ovarian cancer. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance has endorsed the consensus statement, which was announced in June 2007. The statement follows.
Historically ovarian cancer was called the “silent killer” because symptoms were not thought to develop until the chance of cure was poor. However, recent studies have shown this term is untrue and that the following symptoms are much more likely to occur in women with ovarian cancer than women in the general population. These symptoms include:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
- Women with ovarian cancer report that symptoms are persistent and represent a change from normal for their bodies. The frequency and/or the number of such symptoms are key factors in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Several studies show that even early-stage ovarian cancer can produce these symptoms.
Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks should see their doctor, preferably a gynecologist. Prompt medical evaluation may lead to detection at the earliest possible stage of the disease. Early-stage diagnosis is associated with an improved prognosis.
Please visit the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance for more information.