Constant reminders of health screenings and doctors’ visits don’t always equate to us taking care of ourselves. Each year, millions of women skip regular checkups to screen for medical conditions – including cancer.
It’s a scary thought. Though we’re bombarded with statistics from leading health organizations about cancer rates and screenings, it’s important not to ignore the info. Certain cancers like breast, cervical, or colon have special tests available for early detection. A cancer of the reproductive system – ovarian cancer – has no such test. It’s a sneaky form of cancer that can resemble other health issues.
Dr. Douglas Levine, a gynecological oncologist, shares pertinent information on what to watch out for when it comes to ovarian cancer. By learning to pay attention to your body and discussing any abnormal changes with a physician, you could save your own life. Listen to your body!
Any number of things can cause abdominal bloating, but if it’s constant or unusual for you, it may be time to see the doc. Dr. Levine points out that some women notice their clothes feel tighter in the waist. Feeling bloated, gassy, or pressure could be a signal of ovarian cancer, especially if you experience it more than a few times a month.
Another common ailment, pain in the abdomen, could also be an indicator of possible cancer. Weird pangs or discomfort in the pelvic region, or heartburn-like sensations that are persistent in nature should be checked out by a medical professional. The CDC also cites back pain instead of or in addition to pain in the abdomen.
Changes in Bathroom Habits
Are you urinating more frequently than what’s normal for you? Or do you have sudden bouts of constipation that are atypical for your lifestyle? Cancerous tumors can affect normal function of the bladder, intestines, or rectum. According to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, this is normally seen in the advanced stages of the disease.
Watch the video to learn of Dr. Levine’s fourth warning sign, as it’s one that may surprise you. Ovarian cancer is silent and aggressive; therefore symptoms can sometimes get brushed off. The American Cancer Society states that only 20 percent of ovarian cancer cases are caught in the early stage, and symptoms rarely reveal themselves.
However, like Dr. Levine, they also caution that symptoms like the ones listed above are often linked to other non-cancerous conditions. If you’re wondering if genetics play a role, 10 percent of ovarian cancer diagnoses are linked to inherited mutated genes. Speaking to your doctor about your family history, and genetic testing and counseling services can help you determine your risk level.
The wisest course of action is to see a gynecologist to report any persistent symptoms. As Dr. Levine points out, it’s important for you to take action if symptoms are new, frequent, or out of the ordinary for your body.
Do you see your physician regularly for cancer screenings or prevention advice? Do you perform self-checks at home for certain health conditions? Share with us in the comments!