Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,127
    Dr. Douglas Levine discusses an overview of the symptoms of ovarian cancer.

    Dr. Douglas A. Levine: Hi! I am Douglas Levine, and I am a Gynecologic Oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. I am also a member of the Ovarian Cancer Research Funds Scientific Advisory Committee. Today, I am going to speak a little about the symptoms of ovarian cancer.

    Early ovarian cancer may not cause obvious symptoms. It's often hard to detect because the symptoms can be vague and because the ovaries themselves are small and located deep in the pelvis. Doctors and researchers have learned which symptoms are more likely to occur in women with ovarian cancer than women in the general population, and these are the things to look out for.

    Some women have reported abdominal bloating or notice that their pants are too tight around the waist. Some women also experience pelvic or abdominal pain. Another symptom is difficulty eating or feeling full quickly. Some women also experienced urinary symptoms either having issues with urgency or needing to urinate frequently.

    Other symptoms which are less common include feeling very tired all the time, having shortness of breath or having unusual vaginal bleeding, such as having heavy periods or bleeding after menopause.

    It's important to remember that most of these symptoms are not due to cancer. Any woman could experience these symptoms occasionally for any number of reasons and many women do from time to time.

    The key is to ask yourself if these symptoms are new and unusual for you and if they have persisted for several weeks or have become more frequent or more severe. If they have persisted and represent a change from the norm for you, go see your gynecologist and be sure to ask about ovarian cancer.

    Robin Zarel: In terms of symptoms that I experienced in regard to ovarian cancer I didn't even know they were really symptoms of that disease, because they are so common and more common things in my family like some frequent urination or gassiness and I did have very, very slight bloating.

    So, by the time I was diagnosed, actually at stage three which is when people are often diagnosed, the weren't extremely noticeable, which is sort of the scary part about this disease. So, if people notice that something is just persistent they really need to pay attention to it.

    Douglas A Levine: Because there is no method of early detection for ovarian cancer, paying attention to your symptoms is very important. If you are concerned, get checked out. Prompt medical evaluation may lead to detection at the earliest possible stage of the disease and that's important, because the earlier it's detected the easier it is to treat.

    If you want to learn more about ovarian cancer, check out our other videos including the next one on risk factors and prevention of ovarian cancer.