Abnormal growth and division of the cells in one or both the ovaries in women is referred to as ovarian cancer. The abnormal cells of this cancer are capable of invading other organs in the body, like the fallopian tubes and the uterus. The cells may break off from the main growth region and form new tumors in a new place within the ovary. They are also capable of spreading to different parts of the body through the lymphatic system.
A number of factors seem to increase the risk of developing this cancer, including:
- Family history of cancer
- Hormone therapy
Ovarian cancer may be present without any obvious symptoms. This makes early diagnosis difficult, which is very important for successful treatment of the disease.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer, when present, include:
- Bloating in the abdomen
- Abdominal pain
- Pain in the pelvic region
- Leg pain
- Feeling full even with small amounts of food
- Frequent urination
Since many of the common symptoms are similar to that of other normal health issues it is often difficult to differentiate it. Moreover, the symptoms are persistent and start affecting normal day-to-day activities. If one has more than two of the above said symptoms she should meet the physician for a check up as soon as possible. This is particularly important for women who have had cancer earlier in life, or have a family history of ovarian cancer.
Other symptoms that are associated with this type of cancer are:
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Back pain
- Vaginal bleeding
- Shortness of breath
- Changes in the menstrual timings and patterns
- Bleeding after menopause
One should remember that these less common symptoms may be seen in people who do not have ovarian cancer.
The warning signs of ovarian cancer are as follow, and may continue for more than three weeks:
- Urinary problems
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Pain in the pelvis