Warning Signs of Ovarian Cancer in Seniors


Are you a woman over the age of 60? If so, you could be at greater risk for ovarian cancer than your younger counterparts. Approximately 50 percent of all ovarian cancers are diagnosed in women over 60, and, as you age, that risk increases. Additional risk factors include a family history of breast, colon or ovarian cancer, using hormone therapy after menopause, smoking and obesity.

Ovarian cancer is often deemed a “silent killer,” much like diabetes, since its symptoms are not immediately obvious and may be easily attributed to other causes. These five symptoms could, in fact, be warning signs of early stage ovarian cancer, but they might not. It’s important to see a doctor right away for tests. A negative diagnosis will bring peace-of-mind, while a positive diagnosis caught early increases your chances of successful treatment.

Abdominal Bloating
Of course, this could just be a sign of too much summer barbecue dishes, but if your eating habits haven’t changed and you are experiencing a swollen or bloated belly, there could be an underlying medical cause. Do clothes suddenly feel tight or uncomfortable?

Frequent Urination
Frequent urination or an inability to hold your bladder are normal signs of aging, but they can also be signs of ovarian cancer or diabetes. Talk to your doctor, because even if there’s no underlying cause, there are effective treatments available for incontinence.

Pain in the pelvic region, lower, back or abdomen could be a symptom of cancer, but it may not be. It’s important to have any kind of pain checked out by your physician.

Loss of Appetite
Tumors growing in your ovaries can take up space in your body, leaving less room for food in your stomach. If you have been eating less, have a smaller appetite, or fill up quickly at the table, yet still feel bloated after a meal, this could be a warning sign of cancer.

Are you more tired than usual? First, evaluate your activity level, stress level, and quantity and quality of your sleep. If you’ve recently become very active, perhaps taking on a part-time job or watching your grandchildren, that could explain your fatigue. Similarly, if you’re not sleeping well it makes sense that you would be tired. Stress can also sap your energy. If you’ve just retired and are now enjoying a more relaxed lifestyle, you may also feel more tired, and the answer is to get active again, perhaps by joining a workout program in your retirement community.

If you’re not experiencing any lifestyle changes that could make you tired, there might be a medical cause. See a doctor for an evaluation. Fatigue paired with any of the above symptoms could be a sign of cancer or something more benign. You won’t know without the proper tests.

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