Where in health am I? : Home > Health Cloud > Conditions > Cancer > Cancers > Ovarian


My cancer scare changed my life. I'm grateful for every new, healthy day I have. It has helped me prioritize my life - Olivia Newton-John

Because its initial symptoms are mild, often attributed to other causes and there is no specific diagnostic test, ovarian cancer is not easily diagnosed.

There is an 85-93% survival rate if ovarian cancer is diagnosed at Stage I - contained within the ovary (or ovaries) but less than 20% of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at a early stage. Instead, about 75% of all ovarian cancers are diagnosed after the cancer has spread from the ovaries to other parts of the body, dramatically reducing survival rates.

A 2004 study of women with ovarian cancer discovered that crampy abdominal pain and urinary urgency, frequency or incontinence were the most commonly documented symptoms in women who had Stage I and II ovarian cancer. These rather non-specific symptoms are often shrugged off or attributed to something else. Common misdiagnoses include irritable bowel syndrome, stress and depression.

So how do you pinpoint when your abdominal cramps are simple constipation or a passing virus versus early cancer? The key seems to be recognizing whether the symptoms continue or get worse. With most digestive disorders, symptoms tend to come and go, or they occur in certain situations or after eating certain foods.

With ovarian cancer, there's typically little fluctuation — symptoms are constant and gradually worsen. Therefore if you have abdominal symptoms like cramping or urinary symptoms such as frequency or urgency almost daily for more than a few weeks, you should see your doctor, preferably your gynecologist. Prompt medical evaluation may lead to detection at the earliest possible stage of the disease.

Your body is whispering. Listen to it.