Ovarian cancer symptoms, warning signs and risk factors

Ovarian cancer symptoms, warning signs and risk factors

What are the warning signs of cancer?

Whether you are a family caregiver, or have a history of certain types of cancer in your family, everyone should take a moment to review the warning signs of cancer with family and friends. The Canadian Cancer Society lists the common warning signs of cancer as follows:

  • Change in bowel or bladder habits
  • A sore that does not heal
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge
  • Thickening or lump in the breast, testicles, or elsewhere
  • Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
  • Obvious change in the size, colour, shape, or thickness of a wart, mole, or mouth sore
  • Nagging cough or hoarseness
There is an increased risk of ovarian cancer in older women, more common in women aged 50-79.

As you may have noticed, the first letter of each word in this list spells out the word ‘Caution’, which may help you remember these common warning signs of cancer. If you suspect that you or someone you know is exhibiting any of these signs and symptoms of cancer, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Ovarian cancer risk factors

Jane was a family caregiver for her mom who died of ovarian cancer a few years ago at the age of 75.

“Before mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer,” Jane says, “I didn’t even know what the risk factors were or that mom had already developed some of the symptoms until it was too late. Every woman and family caregiver taking care of a woman should be aware of the risk factors for ovarian cancer and the signs to watch out for.”

The Canadian Cancer Society says that the common ovarian cancer risk factors include:

  • Age – There is an increased risk of ovarian cancer in older women, more common in women aged 50-79.
  • Family History – There is an increased risk for women with any close blood relatives who had breast cancer prior to 50 years of age.
  • Reproductive History – Women are at higher risk if they have never had a child or have difficulty getting pregnant.
  • Oral contraceptives/hormone replacement – Ovarian cancer risk is lower for women who have used oral contraceptives (“the pill”) however, the risk is higher if they have taken hormonal replacement therapy.
  • Ethnicity – It is known that Jewish women of Eastern European background have a higher risk. French Canadians of certain ancestry may also have an increased risk.
  • Other factors – Women who have a history of endometriosis are also at higher risk.

Ovarian cancer signs and symptoms

Although there is no specific test to detect ovarian cancer, there are signs and symptoms associated with ovarian cancer, many of which (not all) Jane’s mother experienced. According to Ovarian Cancer Canada some of the common signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Pain in the abdomen or pelvic region
  • Urinary urgency or frequency (e.g. having to go often or feeling like you have to go to the bathroom right away and not being able to wait)

It is important to remember that just because a person has some or all of these symptoms it does not mean that they have ovarian cancer. It is important to seek medical attention and share what is happening with a physician or nurse practitioner.

You might also like our Elizz article entitled Tips for Caregivers of Cancer Patients.

Home health care services

If you are a family caregiver or someone who needs home health care, Elizz can help. Our Elizz nurses, personal support team, and rehab staff are here to give you peace of mind with professional in-home help. Please visit our website or call us at 1-855-275-3549 to inquire about our home care services.

At Elizz, we provide caregiver support for you and home care services for those who depend on you. Elizz is a Canadian company powered by Saint Elizabeth, a national not-for-profit health care organization that has been caring for Canadians since 1908.




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