We’ve long considered ovarian cancer a silent killer with few, if any, early symptoms. However, it turns out ovarian cancer may not be as stealthy as we once thought. There are, in fact, some early signs of the disease that are important to recognize.
Why is it so crucial? The unfortunate reality is that more than 70 percent of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed when the cancer is more advanced and has a poorer prognosis.
- The five-year survival rate (the percentage of women who survive for five years or more after diagnosis) for early-stage ovarian cancer is about 80 to 90 percent.
- The five-year survival rate for advanced-stage ovarian cancer varies from about 28 to 40 percent.
“Women tend to ignore early signs of ovarian cancer or think their symptoms are simply related to aging, weight gain or other less serious problems,” says Amina Ahmed, MD, a gynecologic oncologist at Rush. “That’s what makes ovarian cancer so difficult to detect early, when it is most curable.”
Taking symptoms of ovarian cancer seriously is also important because there is currently no screening method for ovarian cancer for women who do not have symptoms and do not have a family history or BRCA genetic mutations (which put them at a higher risk for developing ovarian cancer).