Symptoms and what you should do
Possible symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:
Bloating/abdominal (tummy) swelling
Eating less and feeling fuller
Pain in your abdomen/pelvis/back
Needing to pee more often (or leaking)
Bowel habit changes
Unusual weight loss
Abnormal vaginal bleeding
Remember, symptoms can be vague and easy to ignore so listen to what your body is telling you and then discuss this with your doctor.
What to do if you think you have these symptoms
If you have any of these symptoms, and they are FREQUENT or WORSENING or UNUSUAL you must discuss this with your GP. This is particularly important if you have a family history of ovarian, breast, or colorectal cancer.
Do not ignore these symptoms or let your GP of any other medical professional dismiss them without proper consideration. Overseas research shows that as many as 80% of ovarian cancers will be initially misdiagnosed because of the similarity of symptoms to other more common, less serious conditions.
You can also use a Patient diary to help yourself monitor your symptoms. You can download the Ovarian Cancer Australia’s Symptom Diary . Showing this to and discussing the completed diary with your doctor can assist with diagnosis. Only approximately one in one hundred women with the above symptoms will have ovarian cancer but early diagnosis is critical to survival.
Remember, Ovarian Cancer is NOT detected by a cervical smear. It is detected by a blood test and ultrasound.
Seeing your GP
When you see your doctor they should perform a physical exam to check for a mass or fluid in your tummy. They may also perform a blood test called CA-125. If either is abnormal they will refer you for an urgent ultrasound. It doesn't necessarily mean you have cancer but it is important to check.
If your blood test is normal, you may still have cancer. If you still have symptoms in two weeks you should make another appointment with your doctor. You can ask to be referred for a private ultrasound if you remain concerned. This is usually much quicker than a public ultrasound and will cost about $200-$250.
If all the tests are normal your doctor may repeat the blood test in a few months time. If your symptoms still don't go away, you must tell your doctor.