Douglas A. Levine: Many women don't know a lot about ovarian cancer, but all women should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of this very difficult disease. Ovarian cancer is relatively rare, affecting about 22000 women each year in the United States, but it's also very aggressive, the most aggressive of all gynecologic cancers. There is not method of early detection for ovarian cancer. The Pap test only detects cervical cancer, not ovarian cancer. So it's important to women to know about the symptoms. Some women have reported abdominal bloating or noticed that their pants are too tight around the waist. Some women also experience pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly. Some women also experience urinary symptoms, either having issues with urgency or needing to urinate frequently. Of course, most of the time these symptoms are not due to cancer, any women could experience these symptoms occasionally for any number of reasons.
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 of 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.