Get to Know the Early Signs of a "Silent Killer"

Ovarian cancer signs for women to know

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) There are no reliable screenings for ovarian cancer, a deadly form of the disease that can strike at any time in a woman's life. That's why knowing the warning signs is so important.

Ovarian cancer has been called "the silent killer" because the symptoms of the disease mimic other conditions and are often dismissed. That's why experts want women to be aware of signs they shouldn't ignore.

"Know the warning signs of ovarian cancer."

A woman needs to listen to her body and let her doctor know of any changes, says Diljeet Singh, MD, gynecological oncologist and co-director of the Ovarian Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Early detection of the disease that affects one in 70 women increases five-year survival rates from 30 to nearly 90 percent.

Here are the early warning signs to notice:

  • Bloating
  • Pain in the pelvis or abdomen
  • Trouble eating and feeling full quickly
  • Urinary problems - urgency or frequency
  • Abdomen enlargement without weight gain as seen in pants fitting differently around the waist

Dr. Singh says that if you experience a combination of these symptoms for two to three weeks, you should talk with your doctor.

The cause of ovarian cancer is not clear, but the following can increase a woman's odds:

  • Being a carrier of a mutated BRCA gene
  • Personal history of breast cancer
  • Family history of ovarian cancer
  • Obesity
  • Being over the age of 45

Talk to your doctor about ways to manage your risks of ovarian cancer.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 16, 2011
Last Updated:
September 18, 2011