According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 20,000 women in the United States get ovarian cancer every year, and about 14,000 die from this disease.1 Treatment for ovarian cancer, which usually involves surgery and chemotherapy,2 works best when it is detected early.3 Unfortunately, there are no screening tests for ovarian cancer in women who do not have any signs or symptoms of the disease.4 Certain diagnostic tests may be used to confirm the presence of disease in persons who have symptoms, or to check persons who are believed to be at high risk.5 Because there are no effective and reliable screening tests, women should talk to their doctors when they notice any changes in their bodies that are not normal for them and could be a sign of ovarian cancer.6
In particular, women should watch for the following signs and symptoms:7
- Vaginal bleeding (particularly if you are past menopause), or discharge from your vagina that is not normal for you.
- Pain or pressure in the pelvic area.
- Abdominal or back pain.
- Feeling full too quickly, or difficulty eating.
- A change in your bathroom habits, such as more frequent or urgent need to urinate or constipation.
The CDC advises that you should see a doctor right away if you have unusual bleeding.8 If any of the other signs or symptoms persist for two weeks or longer, you should talk with a physician.9 Your issues may not be caused by cancer, but the only way to know for sure is to see your doctor.
1CDC, Ovarian Cancer Statistics, https://www.cdc.gov/statistics
2, How is Ovarian Cancer Treated? https://cdc.gov/cancer/ovarian/basic_info/treatment.htm
3CDC, What Should I Know About Screening?, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/ovarian/basic_info/screening.htm
7CDC, What are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/ovarian/basic_info/symptoms.htm