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Early Signs of Ovarian Cancer

Do you think you may have symptoms of ovarian cancer? I will provide you with an informative overview of the symptoms, and signs, as well as point you to sources that can further explain the stages of this often-deadly disease.

While there are different types of tumors that a woman can get in the ovaries, the symptoms tend to be classical in that they are all similar. Symptoms in themselves do not indicate whether they are malignant or benign, but only serve as a warning sign that something is clearly wrong.

The latest statistics from the American Cancer Society seem to indicate that the survival rate for women with this type of cancer seems to remain unchanged for the past several years. Approximately 16,000 women were diagnosed with this form of cancer in 2004. The survival rate really depends on what stage the cancer is detected.

For instance, almost seventy percent of all women diagnosed with cancer of the ovaries, are not diagnosed until they have advanced into stage III. Some have even advanced to stage IV before the disease was caught and treatment plan was implemented. Most women have a greater survival rate or 90% if they are diagnosed in time whereas the rate decreases proportionally with the advancement of each stage.

Treatment like many other types of cancer will depend upon how far the cancer has mestasized into other parts of the body such as the abdominal midsection.

The ovaries are two small almond shaped organs that exists within the lower part of the abdominal region in the uterus - one on each side. They are practically hidden very deep. This is one of the primary reasons why it is difficult to detect cancer in the beginning stages. The next best thing is to be familiar with the symptoms and signs.

Typical ovarian cancer symptoms that serve as a warning flag include:

-- Changes in weight. One may increase or decrease weight without making any dietary changes.

-- Bladder changes that result in uncontrolled urinary movements.

-- Gastrointestinal inconsistencies i.e., frequent indigestion, upset stomach, or excessive chronic gas buildup.

-- Discomfort and pain in the pelvic area.

-- Postmenopausal bleeding

-- Ovary pain during and prolonged after sexual intercourse.

-- Always having a feeling of a full stomach.

-- Feeling weak or overly fatigued.

Remember: Symptoms of ovarian cancer usually do not show up until the cancer has reached the advanced stages. Getting medical attention is crucial if you experience any of these symptoms that last longer than two weeks.

Doctors have several techniques for diagnosing this type of cancer. They include a simple rectal and pelvic examination to check for irregularities. Ultrasounds have been used as a tool to spot ovarian malignancies. Blood test can also aid in detection where the doctor looks for elevated levels of CA125 with values in excess of 35 u/ml. Studies have shown that this test is not as effective in pre-menopausal women.

Transvaginal sonography is a another method used. Your doctor will prescribe the best method of screening and detection based on your age, whether or not you are pre or post-menopausal, and on whether you have other disease factors such as liver disease or other conditions that affect early accurate detection.

Finally, an ovarian pap test known as laparoscopy. This new way of detecting pre-cancerous cells provides a detailed view of what is taking place by collecting cells from the ovaries and abdomen. Treatment for ovarian cancer depends on the type and stage of the disease, your age and general health and other factors your doctor will discuss with you.

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