Ovarian cancer is any type of cancer that begins in the ovary. Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer-related deaths in women. In fact, around 22,000 Americans are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year.
Among other things, back pain is an early symptom of ovarian cancer. In this post, we’re going to discuss the connection between ovarian cancer and back pain, along with other symptoms, causes and treatment.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
In its early stages, ovarian cancer has little to few symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose early on. That being said, if diagnosed in the early stages, ovarian cancer patients have a 94 percent chance of surviving at least five years or more. It’s important to learn about the subtle warning signs of ovarian cancer so you know what to look out for.
Early symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
- Pain in the pelvis, lower abdomen, or lower part of the body
- Back pain
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Feeling full rapidly when eating
- More frequent and urgent urination
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Changes in bowl habits, such as constipation
As the cancer progresses in the body, symptoms might also include:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
Any feelings of bloating, pressure or pain in the abdomen or pelvis lasting for several weeks at a time should warrant a call to the doctor. Also, because many of these symptoms can be caused by non-cancerous conditions, when analyzing symptoms of ovarian cancer it’s important to recognize whether the symptoms are persistent and a change from normal. If they are both of these, then it’s something that you should definitely speak with your doctor about.
Ovarian Cancer and Back Pain
Back pain is a tricky symptom when it comes to ovarian cancer, because often just as many women who do not have ovarian cancer report back pain as well. Back pain, along with fatigue, upset stomach, menstrual changes and abdominal swelling and weight loss are all symptoms of ovarian cancer as well as many other conditions.
If you are experiencing back pain and are concerned about ovarian cancer, it’s important to look at all of the symptoms together as a whole. If you’re concerned and want a second opinion, and because diagnosing ovarian cancer in its early stages is so important, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor with any questions or concerns.
Ovarian Cancer Causes
We don’t exactly know the causes of ovarian cancer. We do, however, know several risk factors. These are the most common risk factors for developing ovarian cancer:
- Age: Ovarian cancer is extremely rare in women under 40. Half of all ovarian cancers occur in women age 63 and older.
- Obesity: Women who have a body mass index of at least 30 have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.
- Reproductive history: Women who gave birth before the age of 26 are at a lower risk for ovarian cancer. Conversely, women who have their full first-term pregnancy over 35 are at a higher risk for developing ovarian cancer.
- Birth control: Women who have used oral contraceptives have a lower risk of ovarian cancer.
- Gynecologic surgery: Having your tubes tied (tubal ligation) or having a hysterectomy may reduce your chances for developing ovarian cancer.
- Fertility drugs: Some drugs may increase your risk for developing ovarian tumors.
- Androgens: Androgens, or male hormones, may be linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
- Estrogen therapy and hormone therapy: Using estrogens after menopause may increase your risk for developing ovarian cancer.
- Family history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer or colorectal cancer
- Diet: Women who followed a low-fat diet for at least four years showed a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Ovarian Cancer Treatment
Treatment options for ovarian cancer include: surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.