The symptoms of ovarian cancer are very similar to the symptoms of uterine fibroids; this is why you shouldn’t ignore new-onset symptoms even if they closely match those of uterine fibroids.

Teresa P. Diaz-Montes, MD, says that “symptoms between ovarian cancer and fibroids could be similar.”

“If fibroids are large in size, a women can experience abdominal distension, shortness of breath, feeling full quickly after eating a small meal, going to the bathroom more frequently to urinate and experiencing pelvic pressure,” explains Dr. Diaz-Montes, of the Gynecologic Oncology Center at Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, MD.

And that list of symptoms can also apply to ovarian cancer.

Dr. Diaz-Montes continues, “Fibroids can also cause lower back pain if they are big in size as well as leg pain if compressing on the side of the pelvis.  These symptoms tend to be gradual and present over a matter of years.”

Ovarian cancer, too, can cause lower back pain and pain in a leg.

“Ovarian cancer can present with the same symptoms, but these tend to be of more rapid onset.

“Usually symptoms in ovarian cancer tend to present over a month or two prior to the diagnosis.  Uterine fibroids could present with heavy vaginal bleeding.  This is not a common symptom in ovarian cancer.”

Dr. Diaz-Montesdr. diaz-montes is associate director of The Lya Segall Ovarian Cancer Institute at Mercy Medical Center. Board certified in gynecologic oncology, she has conducted various clinical trials to advance the care of gynecologic cancers.