Ovarian cancer is a form of cancer where a malignancy forms in one of the ovaries. A malignancy can begin in the germ, stromal, or epithelial cells within the ovaries. Stromal cells make the structure of each ovary, germ cells evolve into egg cells, and epithelial cells make up the outer layer of the ovaries. Ovarian cancer is caused by an acquired or spontaneous genetic mutation that results in cells growing and multiplying beyond control. Genetic factors make some individuals more susceptible to ovarian cancer development than others. Diagnosis is made with blood tests, computerized tomography scans, positron emission tomography scans, magnetic resonance imaging, and a biopsy.
Patients need prompt treatment for ovarian cancer. They will often have surgery for ovarian cancer. Chemotherapy for ovarian cancer is a common option, particularly in combination with surgery. There are no natural remedies for ovarian cancer beyond options to help manage symptoms and treatment side effects. This may include aromatherapy and following a healthy diet. Overall, the best treatment for ovarian cancer varies from patient to patient and what they decide on with their doctors. Of course, all patients benefit from understanding the symptoms of ovarian cancer first.
Feeling Full Fast
Ovarian cancer patients have malignant cells that are rapidly growing and dividing in their lower abdomen. When cancerous cells start taking up space the intestines and other abdominal organs would be occupying, individuals will deal with symptoms linked to abdominal organ compression. An individual who feels full fast will lose their appetite after eating only a few bites of food. The stomach and intestines expand to accommodate the food consumed before it is digested.
The abdominal organs and tissues surrounding the intestines and stomach are all contained within the abdominal fascia or compartment. The abdominal fascia can expand to a certain degree in cases where tumors and food take up a significant amount of space. However, a limit to how much expansion can happen does exist. When this threshold is exceeded, the affected individual will feel discomfort when they put anything else into their digestive tract.
Abdominal bloating is the feeling of tightness and fullness in the abdomen, which may be distended or appear swollen. This is normal for an individual who is healthy when they consume particularly gassy foods or when on their menstrual period. However, ovarian cancer is a malignancy that produces persistent abdominal bloating. One of the most common symptoms to occur with abdominal bloating in an ovarian cancer patient is weight loss.
The bloating that occurs because of ovarian cancer is the result of a condition referred to as ascites, which is when too much fluid builds up in the abdomen. When malignant cells spread to the peritoneum or abdominal lining, fluid can accumulate. Ascites can also occur when cancer spreads to lymph nodes in the area and impairs their ability to remove extra fluids from the tissues.
Pelvic Discomfort And Pain
An ovarian cancer patient can feel pelvic discomfort and pain for many different reasons. Cancer in the ovary can spread to neighboring tissues like the uterus and cause the muscles that make up the uterus to contract inappropriately. This mechanism produces a cramping pain in the lower pelvis. This pain is comparable to the pain of menstrual cramps. If ovarian cancer spreads into the bowel tissues, patients can experience pain due to intestinal damage and improper functioning of the large intestine.
Ovarian cancer can metastasize to the bladder tissues, which can produce pain and urinary symptoms due to the inappropriate contraction of the bladder muscles and inflammation. Ovarian cancer can cause patients to develop ascites, which will cause them to feel discomfort and pain because the organs and nerves in the pelvic area are being compressed.
Bowel Habit Changes
The ovaries are located quite close to the large intestine in the upper pelvis and lower abdomen. This close proximity can make the bowels a particularly susceptible area for cancer cell invasion. When ovarian cancer invades the bowel tissues, several new symptoms will appear that are related to intestinal damage, inflammation, and functional impairment. Cancer that has gotten into the bowels can cause patients to have diarrhea if it causes damage to the lining of the large intestine. The lining of the large intestine absorbs fluid from the stool before it exits the body.
Cancer that invades an individual's bowels from the ovaries can cause a full or partial obstruction of the colon, which causes stool to stay inside the intestine for too long. When stool does not move through the digestive tract fast enough, the large intestine may absorb too much fluid. This mechanism can cause the patient to become constipated.
Weight loss occurs when an individual's energy balance in their body is negative. An individual's energy balance ratio is the number of calories they consume to the number they burn off. Individuals will have a positive energy balance when they consume more calories than they are burning off. A negative energy balance occurs when an individual consumes fewer calories than they burn. When the cells run out of calories to use to produce energy, they use adipose tissues instead.
When excess adipose tissue is used to produce energy, the individual will lose body mass due to decreased body fat. An ovarian cancer patient will often have a negative energy balance and lose weight. This is because the cancerous cells that are constantly growing and rapidly dividing are using up all of the calories being consumed through their diet.
Frequent Urge To Urinate
Many individuals with ovarian cancer will experience a frequent urge to urinate. This symptom often appears when the tumor or other cancerous cells begin to press on the individual’s bladder. The increased pressure can make individuals feel as if there is less space in their bladder and that they need to urinate more often. Even when individuals do go to the bathroom frequently because of this persistent urge to urinate, they will often have only a little urinary output. This particular symptom presents quite similarly to a urinary tract infection.
Chronic fatigue is a common symptom linked to many forms of cancer, including ovarian cancer. There are many reasons that individuals will experience chronic fatigue due to ovarian cancer. One of the reasons is that the cancerous cells are liable to take significant amounts of energy from the affected individual. In fact, they take more energy than healthy cells. What an individual’s body has left is typically relegated to essential functions, and reduced energy is a common result of that. Many ovarian cancer patients also deal with chronic fatigue as a side effect of their cancer treatment, which is also quite tough on the body. Of course, it is worth noting that cancer-related fatigue is more than simply feeling tired. Many patients describe it as feeling drained, extremely weak, and often listless. Some of them may even feel too tired to eat.
Back pain is another symptom that can appear due to ovarian cancer. In many cases, it is the result of fluid building in the pelvis or due to the tumor spreading in the pelvis or abdomen. This can irritate lower back tissues, triggering pain. However, it is vital to understand that back pain can occur for many reasons, and ovarian cancer is not the most common cause. Individuals can typically dismiss ovarian cancer as the cause of their back pain if they have been exercising recently or may have strained muscles in their back. It is new and persistent back pain with no immediate and identifiable cause that individuals must report to their doctor. This is especially important if the pain is excruciating.
Menstrual Cycle Changes
Many individuals with ovarian cancer will experience menstrual cycle changes, including as an early sign of it. The changes are often different. Some individuals will have periods that are significantly heavier than what is normal for them. Others may have a lighter period. Even more individuals will deal with irregular periods, whether they are more frequent or happen less often. Some may miss a period. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming to think about the variety of menstrual cycle changes that can appear due to ovarian cancer. The vital thing to remember, however, is that the changes will be abnormal for the woman experiencing them. This is how they should evaluate talking to their doctor about their symptoms.
Indigestion can appear as a warning sign of ovarian cancer. In many patients, this is due to fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Indigestion, however, can vary in its presentation when ovarian cancer is the cause. Some affected individuals will experience heartburn, which is a burning feeling that appears behind the breastbone. Heartburn is often worse when the individual is lying down or immediately after they have eaten. Other ovarian cancer patients will deal with indigestion in the form of excess gas for an extended period, even before their official diagnosis. Gas due to ovarian cancer is often accompanied by constipation, bloating, and general abdominal discomfort.