Ovarian Cancer

Symptoms & Detection

The sooner ovarian cancer is found and treated, the better a woman's chance for recovery. Early ovarian cancer detection can be difficult. Many times, women have no ovarian cancer symptoms or just mild symptoms of ovarian cancer until the disease is in an advanced stage. Scientists are busy studying methods of ovarian cancer detection before symptoms develop. They are exploring the usefulness of measuring the level of CA-125, a substance called a tumor marker, which is often found in higher-than-normal amounts in the blood of women with ovarian cancer. They also are evaluating transvaginal ultrasound, a test that may help detect the ovarian cancer early.

A large-scale study, known as the PLCO (Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian) Cancer Screening Trial, is currently evaluating the usefulness of a blood test for the tumor marker known as CA-125 and a test called transvaginal ultrasound for ovarian cancer screening.

Recognizing Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

Ovarian cancer often shows no obvious signs or symptoms until late in its development. Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:

  • General abdominal discomfort and/or pain (gas, indigestion, pressure, swelling, bloating, cramps)
  • Nausea, diarrhea, constipation, or frequent urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling of fullness even after a light meal
  • Weight gain or loss with no known reason
  • Abnormal bleeding from the vagina

These symptoms of ovarian cancer may be caused by ovarian cancer or by other, less serious conditions. It is important to check with a doctor about any of these ovarian cancer symptoms.

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