Ovarian cancer is the 7th leading cancer in women, striking about 22,000 times a year in this country and it's the fourth leading cause of cancer death. Most people think there are no symptoms until it's too late. Turns out, there are a few subtle clues.
"I myself didn't see all these symptoms as being related to one thing. I had stomach problems, I had female problems, and I never saw them together," says Annie Ellis, an ovarian cancer patient.
"There had been some evidence for years that even in early stages we have symptoms in ovarian cancer patients, but unfortunately they are very non-specific symptoms, often symptoms that would be attributed to other problems," says Dr. Kevin Holcom, of Beth Israel Cancer Center.
In it's early stages, ovarian cancer can cause bloating or fullness. Your abdomen may grow even though you're not gaining weight elsewhere. You may also have urinary symptoms, like frequency or even incontinence, and occasional bouts of unexplained abdominal or pelvic pain.
Now, all that doesn't have to mean cancer. In fact, the vast majority of women with these symptoms will not have cancer, but since those are the best clues we have. It is a very good idea to see your doctor if you're getting a combination of these problems, because ovarian cancer is curable, if you can find it early.