If you often feel full quickly when eating, don't ignore it.

ovarian cancer painOvarian cancer has often been referred to as the cancer that whispers. That's because symptoms associated with the disease are typically subtle and can easily be mistaken for something else. Unfortunately, this causes approximately two-thirds of women who have ovarian cancer to be diagnosed at a late stage of the disease, when it is difficult to treat.

One sign of ovarian cancer that many women may miss is a feeling of being full quickly when eating. Of course, this is a symptom that can easily be attributed to gastrointestinal issues and may be ignored. In addition to feeling full quickly, other subtle warning signs of ovarian cancer include:

  • Abdominal pain, bloating or swelling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent urination
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Pelvic discomfort
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Back pain
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

It's easy to see why many of these symptoms are often ignored or attributed to another cause.

If you notice that you've been feeling full quickly even though you haven't eaten much, or you have other symptoms of ovarian cancer, talk to your doctor. It may be hard to determine when these symptoms warrant a trip to a gynecologist and when you just need to lay off certain foods or change your diet. After all, you don't want to be running to the doctor for every little thing that may seem "off" if it turns out to be nothing, but you also don't want to miss a warning sign of a very serious disease.

There aren't routine screening tests for ovarian cancer, which makes it hard to easily identify the disease during its early stages. Since many people experience no symptoms at all or vague symptoms such as those listed above, it can be hard to know when someone should be screened for ovarian cancer. If there is cause for concern, your doctor may do an internal exam, as well as an ultrasound or CT scan. You may also be sent for blood tests to look for certain cancer markers.

It's understandable that many women don't know when to be concerned enough about possible ovarian cancer symptoms to see a doctor. If you have a family history of ovarian cancer, err on the side of caution and get checked even if you're not sure. If you have symptoms that persist and you haven't found a valid explanation for them, it may also be a good idea to talk to your doctor or gynecologist about the possibility of whether your symptoms may be attributable to ovarian cancer.

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Date Last Reviewed: July 19, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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