As always, for any health-related situation, the earlier you receive a diagnosis the better. Plus, the more serious a disease is the more important diagnosis becomes — and they don’t come more serious than cancer. Catching cancer in its early stages is absolutely crucial, as it raises the hope that it can be treated before it spreads elsewhere in the body. In society, however, many symptoms experienced by people go undetected — or rather ignored — yet those symptoms may not be as minor as they seem.
A new study underlines this point by looking at a big threat to women: ovarian cancer. This type of tumor strikes one out of every 70 women. It is often known as a “silent” disease because its major symptoms don’t appear until the tumor has already advanced. However, there is good news on the frontier — this point isn’t true. U.S. researchers have just found that swelling and pain in the abdominal area are common symptoms experienced by women months before ovarian cancer is diagnosed.
This is important for both patients and doctors alike. It will spark the former into visiting their doctor about their symptoms instead of ignoring the pain and discomfort. Taking early action will alert the doctor to move toward a diagnosis and perhaps even warrant more pelvic imaging scans. The researchers looked at about 2,000 women with ovarian cancer, 11,000 with breast cancer, and 6,000 with no cancer to see whether or not symptoms do indeed happen earlier and if a diagnosis could be made more quickly because of it. The results of this study were published in the influential journal Cancer.
The researchers found that abdominal swelling and pain were significantly more common a half-year before the women were diagnosed, unlike the breast cancer group. That is six full months before cancer diagnosis — and that is a big chunk of time during which preventative measures can be taken. Even between one and three months before being diagnosed, the ovarian cancer patients experienced gastrointestinal symptoms and pelvic pain. No other women studied experienced the same symptoms, suggesting they were unique to ovarian cancer.
If you experience symptoms such as those mentioned in this article — and that last for longer than is usual — see a doctor right away. Thanks to this study, doctors may start ordering specific tests designed to detect ovarian cancer rather than ordering other tests that will only serve to rule out other illnesses. Cancer is scary, there is no doubt about it; but measures to detect it early are increasing, as this study illustrates. And, as it stands now, early detection is your best shot at treatment.