Ovarian cancer: the symptoms

The clinical symptoms are varied and not very specific of an ovarian pathology: digestive symptoms such as transit disorders, abdominal pains such as colic, gravity, an increase in waist circumference; urinary symptoms such as urinary frequency (ie, frequent urge to urinate), urgency, dysuria (ie urination problems).

Elsewhere there may be symptoms reflecting distant organ involvement: eg dyspnea (ie breathing difficulties) signifying pulmonary involvement, loss of balance, paralysis (etc.) signing cerebral involvement, such as thrombophlebitis.

There may also be bleeding (bleeding after menopause or bleeding between periods).

Sometimes there is no calling symptom. The disease is then discovered on the occasion of a gynecological examination: the doctor feels a latero-uterine mass to the vaginal touch. This mass may be difficult to locate if the cancerous tumor is large and invades the small pelvis.

It can also be discovered on the occasion of an ultrasound (in particular endo-vaginal ultrasound), or during a surgery done for another reason.

The clinical symptoms are too disparate to make an accurate diagnosis, and must be combined with complementary tests, especially an ultrasound.

CT and MRI are done to confirm the diagnosis but also to make a first assessment of extension.

It is possible to assay cancer markers such as CA 125 whose levels are often normal in novice cancers. In fact, CA 125 is primarily used to monitor the course of ovarian cancer.

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