Vaginal Discharge Or Bleeding
Vaginal discharge may also occur. It may be clear, yellow, or blood-tinged. There may also be bleeding similar to a period.
Abnormal vaginal bleeding is a common symptom of stromal cell tumors. It is associated with the female hormone estrogen secreted by these tumors.
Bleeding before a girl’s first period, after menopause, or mid-cycle in females of reproductive age should be brought to a doctor’s attention. There are many potential causes.
What Increases Your Risk Of Ovarian Cancer
The exact causes of ovarian cancer are unknown. However, there are some factors that increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer including:
Referral To A Gynaecological Oncologist
If your assessment and investigations suggest ovarian cancer is a possibility, ask your doctor for an immediate referral to a gynaecological oncologist.
Gynaecological oncologists are specialists gynaecologists who treat cancers such as ovarian cancer. It has been shown that women with ovarian cancer who are treated by a gynaecological oncologist have better outcomes.
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When To See A Healthcare Provider
Early symptoms of ovarian cancer, when present, are often vague and subtle. For each of these symptoms, there are usually other, less harmful conditions that could be the cause.
A 2016 review of studies looked at early symptoms of ovarian cancer. It found that the symptoms most likely to suggest ovarian cancer included:
- An abdominal mass
If your exam is normal, but your body is still telling you something is wrong, listen. Follow-up or get a second opinion.
Ovarian Cancer Vs Ovarian Cysts
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs or pockets of normal tissue, while ovarian cancers are solid masses of cancer cells. Ovarian cysts may have symptoms and can come and go with your menstrual cycle. Sometimes, cysts can cause symptoms similar to those of ovarian cancer, including:
- Belly pain that can be sharp
- Menstrual changes
- Peeing often
If youâre having these symptoms, a doctor can use ultrasound to look and see if itâs a cyst or a tumor. If it’s a cyst, theyâll likely keep an eye on it to make sure it goes away.
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Treatments For Utis And Ovarian Cysts
The common treatment for a urinary tract infection is antibiotics. A simple infection, one that encompasses the urethra and bladder only, will be treated with three to seven days of antibiotics such as amoxicillin. For a more complex UTI, one that involves the kidneys, patients will receive seven to fourteen days of antibiotics to ensure that the infection is cleared out completely. If the patient is too ill to take medication by mouth, too dehydrated, or the infection has spread to the blood and become sepsis, then hospitalization with intravenous antibiotics and fluids will be absolutely necessary.
However, if the cysts rupture and there is intense or rising pain, and dizziness, then the patient must seek medical aid. Either immediately go to a doctor or an emergency room, especially if there is bleeding involved.
Most normal symptoms of an ovarian cyst are treated conservatively. Usually, only over the counter or prescription pain medication is necessary until the cysts are gone. Surgery is only used if the cyst turns out to be a tumor, there is excessive bleeding, or another life-threatening event occurs because of the ovarian cysts.
Warning Signs That Can Alert You About Ovarian Cancer
Ovaries are the female reproductive organs, that produce ova or eggs. They also create the female hormones called oestrogen and progesterone.
What is Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer occurs in the cells of an ovary. It begins when abnormal cells in the ovary start to multiply rapidly and grow out of control to form a tumour. Generally, it is believed that ovarian cancer does not show any specific signs until the tumour has spread to a later stage.
Nonetheless, in some of the cases, ovarian cancer may show early indications. The most commonly recognized symptoms of include:
Feeling bloated constantly
Ache in your gut or pelvis
Urinary issues, for example, an urgent need to urinate or urinating more frequently than usual
It is very important for you to understand that these symptoms do not necessarily imply that you have ovarian cancer. The same number of other common and harmless conditions can bring about the same indications. Additionally, different reasons for these symptoms are significantly more common than ovarian cancer. These may include irritable bowel syndrome and urinary tract infections . Unless, the early indications of ovarian cancer tend to follow a pattern, which is as follows:
They begin abruptly
They do not feel the same as your typical stomach-related or menstrual issues
They happen almost consistently and stay for long
Different signs and symptoms that affect a few women with ovarian cancer include:
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Can Utis Increase The Risk Of Bladder Cancer
Several studies have investigated whether UTIs may be a risk factor for bladder cancer.
- Epidemiological studies that have examined evidence of an association between UTIs and urothelial carcinoma have to date produced varying results.3,13,14 Some data indicates there may be an increased risk in individuals who experience previous UTIs,3,14 whereas other findings suggest that previous UTIs could have a protective effect against bladder cancer, possibly due to an anti-cancer effect of the antibiotics used in their treatment.3,13,14
- Colibactin, a bacterial toxin that can damage DNA, is suspected to play a role in some types of cancer. Researchers have recently detected colibactin production in E. coli isolated from the urine of patients with UTIs.15 Furthermore, in the urinary tracts of mice infected with colibactin-producing E. coli, DNA damage in bladder cells was observed .
- Preliminary data appears to support a link between recurrent UTIs and increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the bladder.16 However, as squamous cell carcinoma is a rare type of bladder cancer , the overall impact of this potential association would be relatively minor.
It may be concluded that the extent of any direct relationship between UTIs and bladder cancer is yet to be fully determined. However, it is clear that a major bladder cancer risk associated with recurrent UTIs in women is that of delayed diagnosis, caused by the extensive overlap in symptoms between the two conditions.
What Are The Treatment Options For Fallopian Tube / Primary Peritoneal Cancer
Women who have been diagnosed with or who have suspected fallopian tube and primary peritoneal cancers should be referred to a gynecologic oncologist for further evaluation to determine the optimal treatment options for the best chance of long-term survival. Treatment recommendations are typically the same as for ovarian cancer.
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How Is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed
If you experience some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer for more than two weeks, and they are a change from what is normal for you, ask your doctor about the possibility of ovarian cancer.
Your doctor will initially ask questions about your symptoms, past health history and family health history. A physical examination will then be conducted, including a pelvic examination to check your vulva, vagina and cervix, and a manual vaginal examination to check your uterus and pelvis.
If no other cause can be determined for your symptoms, a transvaginal ultrasound examination can be performed. This is a test for identifying abnormalities in the ovaries and in the pelvis.
Other imaging tests such as computerised tomography and positron emission tomography scans can be used to check for cancer and other abnormal tissue.
Your doctor may also order a simple blood test called a CA-125 , but this test is not always reliable.
How Does My Doctor Make A Diagnosis To Differentiate Between A Uti And Ovarian Cysts
Distinguishing between a urinary tract infection and ovarian cysts can be a long and often frustrating experience for a woman. It involves a process of elimination. The first, and most obvious tests will be a urinalysis and culture to check for a UTI. If these tests are positive, a woman will probably be prescribed a round of antibiotics to relieve the symptoms and cure the urinary tract infection.
Once she is retested and it is proven that the UTI has been cleared, then the remaining symptoms, if any, will be discussed between the woman and her physician.
The next step could be a kidney and bladder scan, or a cystoscopy . These tests are meant to rule out such issues as kidney stones or unidentified infections.
When no complications are discovered in the urinary tract, then more advanced testing is needed. The doctor may order an ultrasound, and/or an MRI scan. In these cases, the doctor will be searching for ovarian cysts or ovarian cancer.
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When To See Your Doctor
Detecting ovarian cancer early leads to the best outcomes. You should visit your doctor if you notice:
- increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating
- abdominal or pelvic pain
- feeling full after eating a small amount
- needing to urinate often or urgently.
And these symptoms
- are a change from what is normal for you
- persist for more than 2 weeks
- and there is no other explanation for you having these symptoms.
Further information about ovarian cancer can be found at:
Additional Benign Or Non
Fallopian tube disease
Abscess or blood mass on an ovary
Benign pancreatic cyst
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Urinary tract infection
Though some of the aforementioned conditions can produce symptoms that ovarian cancer will never cause such as fever, chills and jaundice sometimes these benign or non-malignant conditions may present with only a few symptoms which just happen to be the same symptoms that ovarian cancer can cause, such as abdominal and back pain.
With so many diseases that mimic ovarian cancer in the symptom department, its no surprise that ovarian cancer is ranked high as one of the most misdiagnosed illnesses.
Dr. Riobe points out that conventional blood work to screen for it is not very specific or sensitive.
In other words, the test results can be abnormal for several other conditions such as those sited above or conversely, the CA-125 may be normal in the presence of ovarian cancer.
An ultrasound can assist in diagnosis if an ovarian mass is seen and has certain concerning characteristics.
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What Increases Your Risk
In most cases, the risk of getting ovarian cancer is small. But the things that put you at risk for ovarian cancer are having:
- A family history of ovarian cancer. Having a close relative who had ovarian cancer or certain other cancers raises your risk. And you are at even higher risk if you have two close relatives with cancer.
- Inherited gene changes. A small number of people with a family history of cancer have inherited gene changes. Having certain gene changes, such as BRCA changes, can put you at a higher risk for ovarian cancer.
Other things that put you at risk include:
- Being older. Ovarian cancer most often happens after menopause.
- Never having had a baby.
- Having started periods before age 12 and going through menopause after age 52.
- Having endometriosis.
Most people who get ovarian cancer don’t have any of these risk factors.
What Are The Early Warning Signs Of Ovarian Cancer
Early-stage ovarian cancer rarely causes any symptoms. Advanced-stage ovarian cancer may cause few and nonspecific symptoms. It should also be noted that these symptoms are often mistaken for more common benign conditions.
These symptoms of ovarian cancer can develop at any stage of the condition. They include:
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Neuroscientist Says Her Ovarian Cancer Symptoms Were Mistaken For Uti In Viral Thread
A Canada-based neuroscientist and professor has opened up about her experience with ovarian cancer, explaining that she had initially been misdiagnosed with a Urinary Tract Infection . The thread, posted on by Dr. Nadia Chaudhri, has since gone viral, racking up over 56,000 likes and 15,000 retweets.
Dr. Chaudhri’s story speaks to the often devastating effects of ovarian cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, “a woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 78,” and “her lifetime chance of dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 108.”
In 2021, it’s estimated that 21,410 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the U.S., while an estimated 13,770 will pass away from the disease.
In her Twitter thread, Dr. Chaudhri explained that she began to first feel “unwell” in January 2020. “I was tired, had vague abdominal pain, severe lower back pain & a mild increase in frequency to urinate,” she wrote.
“I was treated with antibiotics for a UTI even though I did not have classic UTI symptoms ,” she added.
She also received an endovaginal ultrasound at the time, which suggested “the possibility of a ruptured left ovarian cyst.” She was told to follow up after three months.
Now that I have 100K followers, I want to talk about #OvarianCancer. Specifically my gritty story. The goal is awareness. I hope you find this narrative informative.
Dr. Nadia Chaudhri
Unintentional Weight Loss Or Weight Gain
Weight gain from ovarian cancer often happens quickly. This is due to the accumulation of fluid in the abdomen.
Weight loss may occur for a combination of reasons. The early sensation of fullness and loss of appetite may cause weight loss.
With more advanced cancers, cancer cachexia may contribute. Cachexia is a syndrome of weight loss, loss of muscle mass, and loss of appetite.
Unintentional weight loss is the loss of 5% or more of body weight over six to 12 months.
An example of unexplained weight loss would be a 150-pound woman losing 7.5 pounds over a six-month period without diet or exercise.
Unintentional weight loss should always be evaluated. Besides ovarian cancer, there are other serious conditions that can cause this.
Studies have found that over a third of people who have unexpected weight loss have an underlying cancer of some form.
Conditions With Similar Symptoms
There are many conditions that can cause the symptoms of ovarian cancer. These include:
Yes, a person can have ovarian cancer without knowing.
Doctors use to classify the advancement of ovarian cancer. In stage 1 ovarian cancer, the cancerous cells are only present in one or both ovaries or fallopian tubes. This can cause symptoms, but not always.
It is possible to find ovarian cancer early, but there is no reliable screening test as there is for cervical cancer. Getting regular pelvic exams can help gynecologists notice any changes.
People at high risk for ovarian cancer may be able to get tests, such as a transvaginal ultrasound or a special blood test, that can detect early signs of the disease. This includes people with BRCA gene mutations, people with certain genetic syndromes, and people with a strong family history of ovarian cancer.
If someone has any of the symptoms of ovarian cancer, they should speak with a doctor. This is especially true if the symptoms:
- are persistent
- are new or not typical
The American Cancer Society states that if symptoms occur more than 12 times a month , it is time to make an appointment.
It is also important to notify a doctor if symptoms of preexisting conditions change in a way that is out of the ordinary. For example, people with endometriosis are also more likely to develop a certain kind of ovarian cancer, so if their symptoms get worse or they notice new ones, a medical professional should perform tests to rule it out.
Could It Be Ovarian Cancer
One reason why ovarian cancer is so difficult to detect in its early stages is that many women mistakenly believe that the changes they are experiencing are related to weight gain, the natural aging process or a health issue that is much less serious than cancer, such as gastrointestinal distress or a urinary tract infection. More often than not, one of those reasons is to blame however, it is important to be sureand not to wait to find out. Bottom line: If any of the above-listed symptoms is new for you, you should consult with a gynecologic oncologist right away.
Medically reviewed by Jing-Yi Chern, MD, ScM, gynecologic oncologist
If you would like to discuss your ovarian cancer symptoms with an oncologist in the gynecological clinic at Moffitt Cancer Center, you can request an appointment by calling or completing our new patient registration form online.
When To Call A Doctor
Talk to your doctor if you have any symptoms, such as:
- Pain in your belly or pelvis.
- Trouble eating, or feeling full quickly.
- Urinary problems, such as feeling an urgent need to urinate or urinating more often than usual.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions about calling when you have problems, new symptoms, or symptoms that get worse.
When To See A Doctor
If youâre having symptoms that might be ovarian cancer and theyâre unexplained, new for you, and don’t go away in a relatively short period of time, call your doctor. You should take notice also if the symptoms don’t respond to over-the-counter medicines or home remedies.
There is no easy way to screen for ovarian cancer, but a doctor can help you rule out other possibilities and get to the bottom of your symptoms. Let your doctor know if you may be at higher risk of ovarian cancer due to your family history or an inherited cancer syndrome. It’s important to catch ovarian cancer early, when itâs easier to treat.
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