Abdominal distension or bloating
Ovarian tumors are usually buried deep inside the abdomen which is why they may not be discovered until they are quite large. They can cause abdominal discomfort even in the early stages of the disease. Studies have found that women who suffer from ovarian cancer usually complain that their abdomens are extended or bloated, even in the early stages. Distension means that the size of the abdomen increases, while bloating may be intermittent, increasing and decreasing.
This bloating may be caused by an abnormal buildup of fluid in the pelvis or abdomen. This is thought to be caused by blockage of lymphatic drainage due to the cancer cells. Bloating is one of the symptoms of liver disease, but cancer can be the culprit too. The fluid buildup can make you look and feel as though you are a few months pregnant. As ovarian cancer spreads, a tumor can even start taking up space in the uterus and grow quite large. As the uterus normally holds a fetus, the tumor has space to grow.
If you feel bloated before a period or after eating a big meal, there’s usually no cause for concern. So, how do you know when to take bloating seriously? If you’re suddenly feeling bloated all the time, you do need to take notice. Persistent bloating is one of the major symptoms of ovarian cancer but only about 20% of the women suffering from this symptom seek medical help because of this. This figure was announced after a recent study of 324 women. They often attributed bloating to other factors such as gaining weight and the natural aging process.
If distension and bloating persist, a doctor should be asked to do further tests such as blood tests or ultrasounds. A transvaginal ultrasound will reveal masses on the surface of the ovaries and cysts inside the ovaries. Fluid buildup in the abdomen, called ascites, can also be seen on an ultrasound. If you have symptoms of distension and bloating and you know you have a high risk of ovarian cancer or a family history of the disease, make sure that you tell your doctor about this.