Ovarian Cancer and Incontinence
Causes and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
We don't yet know exactly what causes most ovarian cancers. As discussed in the previous section, we do know some factors that make a woman more likely to develop epithelial ovarian cancer. Much less is known about risk factors for germ cell and stromal tumors of the ovaries. While Ovarian Cancer can be asymptomatic, its important to know some of the basic symptoms signaling an issue.
When caught in the early stages, surgery and chemotherapy increase the survival rate dramatically and improve your comfort and quality of life.
New studies show incontinence may be a precursor to certain cancers. It’s important to note, just because you experience incontinence, doesn’t mean Ovarian Cancer is the cause. However, with the possibility of symptoms that mimic those of overactive bladder (OAB), it’s particularly important that women can identify the additional signs of ovarian cancer that would distinguish it from OAB. In fact, peri- or post-menopausal women are at greatest risk of the cancer, and they are also much more likely to be experiencing OAB as well.
Most Common symptoms of Ovarian Cancer:
- A sense of bloating, with vague but persistent and unexplained gastrointestinal complaints
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Unexplained change in bowel habits
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- New and unexplained abnormal postmenopausal vaginal bleeding
- Frequent or urgent urination
Side Effects of Ovarian Cancer Treatments May Cause Incontinence
Surgery and chemotherapy are generally used to treat ovarian cancer. Depending on the stage, a combination of treatments may be necessary. When caught in the early stages, surgery and chemotherapy increase the survival rate dramatically and improve your comfort and quality of life. As with most abdominal surgeries and treatments that affect nerve health or muscle strength, treatments for ovarian cancer can aggravate or develop incontinence.
Cancer treatments that may increase your risk of incontinence include:
- Radiation therapy to the pelvic area, which can irritate the bladder
- Chemotherapy, which may cause nerve damage, vomiting that strains the muscles controlling urination, or loss of hormones
- Surgery to the pelvic area, which can damage muscles or nerves that help control urination
- Medicine that increases hydration or urine production, which can make incontinence worse
Get the Support You Need
Developing cancer can be a scary news, but there are organizations you can turn to for information and support. Learn more at the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.
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