Appearing bloated is a common sign of ovarian cancer.
But having no appetite, needing to wee more and back pain are also signs to look out for.
Around 11 women die from the disease every day in Britain — or 4,000 a year. It kills three times as many people in the US every year, figures show.
Dr Sharon Tate, head of primary care development at charity Target Ovarian Cancer said: ‘With no effective screening tool, knowing the symptoms of this disease can give us the head start in ovarian cancer being diagnosed at the earliest possible stage.
Appearing bloated is a common sign of ovarian cancer. But having no appetite, needing to wee more and back pain are also signs to look out for
‘Currently, two thirds of cases are diagnosed late and one in seven women die within two months of receiving a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.
‘If diagnosed at the earliest stage, the easier the cancer is to treat.’
Here, MailOnline reveals the bizarre warning signs for ovarian cancer awareness month this March.
It’s usually a tell-tale sign that you’re constipated — or a side effect of guzzling down fizzy drinks.
But persistent bloating is also a symptom of ovarian cancer that should not be ignored, experts say.
Only one in five women know bloating is a sign of ovarian cancer, according to the charity Target Ovarian Cancer.
Some women develop visible masses which are a similar size to a football which can be mistaken for a pregnancy bump.
Ovarian Cancer Action explains that bloating can also be a result of ascites, which is the presence of fluid in the abdominal cavity.
Cancer Research UK states: ‘When cancer cells spread to the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum), they can irritate it and cause fluid to build up. Also, cancer can block part of the lymphatic system so fluid can’t drain out of the abdomen as usual.’
Bloating and feeling full quickly are both signs of ovarian cancer. According to the charity Ovarian Cancer Action, some women develop visible masses which are a similar size to a football which can be mistaken for a pregnancy bump
Feeling full quickly
Having no appetite — or feeling full after eating — could be another sign of ovarian cancer.
Just like bloating, this early satiety can be caused by a tumour or ascites.
This can cause you to not feel hungry because the fluid pushes against other organs in your stomach.
The Gynae Centre, a private clinic in London, says this ‘may make you feel nauseous, uncomfortable or like you are already full’ if it affects the gastrointestinal tract.
Back pain is a common ovarian cancer symptom, yet it’s usually just brushed off as something else.
The tumour can cause persistent pain in your abdomen, hips and pelvis.
Although it may sound unrelated to ovarian cancer, if the tumour spreads in the in the abdomen or the pelvis, it can irritate the tissue in your lower back, experts say.
If the pain is persistent, new to you and cannot be easily attributed to other factors, you should seek advice from your GP.
The NHS says that although it is a symptom that can be caused by many different conditions, it is still important to get it checked by a GP because if it is cancer, finding it early means it can be more treatable.
Needing to wee more
Needing to go to the toilet more often could a be a sign of an infection. But it’s also potentially a symptom of ovarian cancer.
This sign of cancer is not widely known, however. Just one in 100 women know about it, according to Target Ovarian Cancer.
The urgency to wee could be caused by a tumour or ascites, according to Dr Tate.
When a tumour grows in the pelvic area, in this case on the ovaries, it can push against the bladder — causing more frequent trips to the toilet.
Internal pressure can also block your ureters, which are the tubes that connect the kidney to the bladder, according to Cancer Research. If this happens, the urine is unable to drain away, which can cause the kidney to swell.
If you have an urgent need to pee or need to pee more often you should visit your GP, according to the NHS.
When a tumour grows in the pelvis area, in this case on the ovaries, it can push against the bladder causing more frequent trips to the toilet. If you notice only a small amount of urine coming out hen you go for a wee, experts say it could be a sign that something is pushing into the bladder
Unusual bleeding from the vagina
Bleeding between periods, or even after the menopause, can be a sign of ovarian cancer.
In most women, abnormal bleeding is a sign of a hormone imbalance, but experts say to get it checked out.
Heavy and irregular bleeding especially between periods are warning signs of a tumour.
Dr Tate said: ‘Any unusual bleeding from the vagina before or after the menopause should always be investigated by a GP.
‘If you are experiencing these symptoms, contact your GP. It may be nothing, but it’s best to be sure.
‘More information on ovarian cancer and support can be found on the Target Ovarian Cancer website.’
This is because a tumour on your ovary can disrupt your menstrual cycle and hormones.
Many tumours produce the female hormone, oestrogen, which can cause vaginal bleeding even if you have already gone through the mesopause, according to the American Cancer Society.
WHY OVARIAN CANCER IS CALLED A ‘SILENT KILLER’
About 80 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed in the advanced stages of the disease.
At the time of diagnosis, 60 percent of ovarian cancers will have already spread to other parts of the body, bringing the five-year survival rate down to 30 percent from 90 percent in the earliest stage.
It’s diagnosed so late because its location in the pelvis, according to Dr Ronny Drapkin, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who’s been studying the disease for more than two decades.
‘The pelvis is like a bowl, so a tumor there can grow quite large before it actually becomes noticeable,’ Dr Drapkin told Daily Mail Online.
The first symptoms to arise with ovarian cancer are gastrointestinal because tumors can start to press upward.
When a patient complains of gastrointestinal discomfort, doctors are more likely to focus on diet change and other causes than suggest an ovarian cancer screening.
Dr Drapkin said it’s usually not until after a patient endures persistent gastrointestinal symptoms that they will receive a screening that reveals the cancer.
‘Ovarian cancer is often said to be a silent killer because it doesn’t have early symptoms, when in fact it does have symptoms, they’re just very general and could be caused by other things,’ he said.
‘One of the things I tell women is that nobody knows your body as well as you do. If you feel something isn’t right, something’s probably not right.’