Ovarian cancer has been called the "Silent Killer" because the symptoms are so ambiguous that it is often not diagnosed until it is already late-stage, and has metastasized. I myself was not diagnosed until I developed full blown ascites. In hindsight I had all of the classic symptoms, but they didn't scream at me "You've got cancer, see a doctor!"
Instead they whispered. I ignored them or made excuses because frankly, until I developed ascites, I never felt sick. There was no pain, no lumps, no unusual bleeding or other things you associate with cancer.
Ovarian Cancer Signs and Symptoms
- A swollen or bloated abdomen, increased girth. Some women notice that their pants or skirts are getting tight around the waist. The bloating is a sign that fluid, called ascites, is building up in the abdominal cavity in later stage disease
- Persistent pressure or pain in the abdomen or pelvis
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary concerns, such as urgency or frequency
- Change in bowel habits with new onset constipation and/or diarrhea
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding
- These symptoms are also commonly caused by benign (non-cancerous) diseases and by cancers of other organs. When they are caused by ovarian cancer, they tend to be persistent and represent a change from normal − for example, they occur more often or are more severe. If a woman has these symptoms more than 12 times a month, she should see her doctor, preferably a gynecologist.