My ovarian cancer symptoms
There are hundreds of pages on the internet which are devoted to ovarian cancer and its symptoms. I had read many of them as well. But I read them only after I had been actually diagnosed. This was too late! Every woman should be aware of those symptoms and their meaning before she gets hit by cancer. We all hear about breast cancer, its prevention, screening etc. In every GP, hospital, and clinic we can find leaflets explaining how to check breast. But it’s very hard to find anything about ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer is called “silent killer” because it’s usually diagnosed at a late stage. It is third the most lethal cancers in the world. Its symptoms are very often mistaken for IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrom) and many other digestive system problems.
How to prevent this and change ovarian cancer statistics?
I am BRCA 1 gene mutation carrier. I knew of the risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer. I was fully aware of it. I’ve been attending breast clinic since 2006. The clinic is fantastic, doctors and nurses are great and they are making sure that my boobs are ok. Every year I am having breast MRI, ultrasound, mammogram and 2 consultations with breast specialists. That’s a lot, isn’t it? I should be happy, I was lucky to have such an excellent care…so why did I get ovarian cancer? There is no screening for ovarian cancer in Ireland. There are no adequate tests which could show that there is something wrong going on with the ovaries.
If I had a regular ultrasound of my ovaries done at least once a year and a simple blood test for the level of CA125 protein my cancer would probably be found earlier than in stage IIIc. I did transvaginal ultrasound privately getting ready for pregnancy and found out about 3 cysts on my ovaries, then I had a blood test for Ca125 and result wasn’t good. Yes, in some cases raised Ca125 and cysts don’t necessary mean that you have ovarian cancer. Also in some cases, CA125 doesn’t elevate at all even with diagnosed ovarian or breast cancer but still shows that there is something that should be check more closely.
Those two simple tests can show so many different problems that woman can have like endometriosis, cysts, benign and malignant changes on ovaries, fallopian tubes and entire abdomen. Would be great to know about them in advance, wouldn’t be?
CA125 protein test
CA 125 is a protein that is a so-called tumor marker or biomarker, which is a substance that is found in greater concentration in tumor cells than in other cells of the body. In particular, CA 125 is present in greater concentration in ovarian cancer cells than in other cells.Find out more
This article is my appeal to every woman! Ladies with BRCA 1 & 2 gene mutations, please use my story and talk to your doctor about the trans-vaginal ultrasound and blood test for Ca125. This can save your life! Ladies without gene mutation, or those who are not aware of it please attend the gynaecological clinic once a year and do a trans-vaginal ultrasound!
An ultrasound scan creates a picture of the tissue and organs inside your body. A hand-held device called a transducer, which uses sound waves, is used to create the image, which will appear on a TV screen.
Ultrasound scans are usually carried out by an ultrasonographer or a radiologist, and will often take place in the radiology department of your local hospital.Find out more
We are too busy, devoted to our work, family, kids we often forget about ourselves and our health. Our body is sending us messages and usually because of lack of time we are ignoring these symptoms. Please listen to your body , it is the best doctor. It is giving you clues and asking for you to follow up. Don’t let any illness win only because you are too busy, you have no time, you don’t care or you just think you are immortal and nothing wrong can happen to you. Ovarian cancer is diagnosed annually in nearly a quarter of a million women globally and is responsible for 140,000 deaths each year.
Statistics show that just 45% of women with ovarian cancer are likely to survive the first five years compared to up to 89% of women with breast cancer. That can be you, your mom, granny, aunt, daughter, friend or your neighbour. I am sure you personally know at least one person who has had or has cancer now.
As I mentioned ovarian cancer symptoms are often misinterpreted as IBS or many other abdominal organs problems. I read a lot of stories when ladies complained about their symptoms and still were misdiagnosed for months and years even though their symptoms were exactly matching these of ovarian cancer.
I ignored them for some time myself. It makes me very angry. Why have I ignored them? I think mostly because:
- I was in good hands of the breast clinic, so never thought cancer can hit me
- I didn’t know the ovarian cancer symptoms
Some time before I was diagnosed with cancer, I developed a gallstone in my gallbladder and any pain and discomfort I experienced I took as related to this gallstone. I was waiting for surgery to remove gallbladder for 1,5 years… Maybe this gallstone wasn’t an issue after all, but my cancer grew for all this time and was invading my entire body? I will never find out, but definitely, I can share my story and send awareness to other women.
My ovarian cancer symptoms were:
- Feeling full all the time
- Lack of appetite
- Tiredness and lack of energy
- Belly pain
- Eventually, menstruation pain, discharges and weight loss
The other symptoms can be:
- Persistent swollen abdomen
- Pain or dragging sensation in my lower abdomen or side
- Vague indigestion or nausea
- Changes in the bowel and bladder habits; for example, constipation or needing to pass water urgently
- Back pains
You can have one, two or all symptoms. They don’t necessary mean you have ovarian cancer. I don’t want to scare every girl here and tell them to run to their doctor straight away. All I am saying is observe, watch and listen to your body, be vigilant! If you have few of those symptoms talk to your doctor, ask for additional tests, don’t let the doctor send you back home with painkillers.
What can we do?
We can eat healthy, keep fit, find the balance between work and personal life, try not to get stressed. That will not eliminate the risk in 100%, cancer still will hit so many women. What we can do is to spread awareness, so every woman will know the symptoms and we will be able to detect cancer at early stage.
DO NOT LET CANCER TO SPREAD IN YOUR BODY!!!
We need to be able to find cancer quick enough. I need you to help me in spreading awareness to all women in Ireland. You are reading this so you probably (hopefully) care about this. Help me to pass the awareness to other girls. Print the list of symptoms and give them to you daughter, mom, granny, friend or your neighbour. Ask them to stick the list in their work, school, GP clinic.
It is simple and together we can save lives!!