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Know the Warning Signs of Ovarian Cancer

James Meschino DC, MS, ROHP
Ovarian cancer has the poorest long-term survival outcomes compared to all other gynecologic cancers, including cervical, uterine and other more commonly known female cancers.

The problem is that it is difficult to diagnose due to wide range of symptoms, many of which overlap with other health problems. If caught early the cure rate is quite impressive. In fact, nine out of every ten women survive if the problem is identified at an early stage. The problem is that most cases of ovarian cancer are not identified until they are at a more advanced stage.

The Ovarian Council National Alliance published recommendations for women in April, 2009, hoping to enlighten women and doctors as to the early warning signs of the disease.

Their recommendations include the following:

If a woman experiences any of the symptoms listed below for more than three weeks, she should immediately see her gynecologist or regular health care provider and advocate for a combination pelvic/rectal exam, CA 125 blood test, and a transvaginal ultrasound. The CA 25 is blood marker that is used to detect and monitor ovarian cancer. Approximately 90% of women with advanced ovarian cancer have elevated levels of CA-125 in their blood serum, making CA-125 a useful tool for detecting ovarian cancer after the onset of symptoms.

The symptoms of concern include:

  • Pelvic and abdominal pain
  • Urinary frequency and urgency
  • Increased abdominal size and bloating
  • Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly
  • Other symptoms may include constipation or diarrhea; nausea, indigestion or gas; abnormal vaginal bleeding; unusual fatigue; unexplained weight loss or gain; shortness of breath or low back pain
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