If you’re experiencing unexplained numbness in a leg, this could be caused by ovarian cancer.
But is it most likely ovarian cancer?
The answer depends on whether or not you’re experiencing other symptoms that are classic for this disease, such as loss of appetite, a distended and bloated stomach, pelvic or lower abdominal cramps and heaviness on one side of the pelvis.
Leg Numbness Not Caused by Ovarian Cancer: Still Potentially Serious
“Leg numbness should be immediately evaluated because this can be due to serious medical problems such as nerve compression in the pelvis, either from a spinal abnormality, neuropathy or tumor compressing a nerve,” says Mylaine Riobe, MD, founder of Riobe Institute of Integrative Medicine.
Dr. Riobe, who’s board certified in ob/gyn and integrative medicine, is the author of “The Answer to Cancer.”
The Riobe Method focuses on the prevention of diseases, not the prevention of death from diseases.
“Ovarian tumors large enough to compress the nerves in the pelvis can cause leg numbness,” says Dr. Riobe.
If this isn’t frightening enough, there are cancers other than ovarian that can cause a numb sensation in a leg by pressing on nerves.
These include cervical cancer and tumors on the spine.
Do not confuse a “tingling” sensation in a leg with actual numbness. It’s normal for legs to tingle or “feel numb” from time to time as a result of external mechanical pressure on a nerve.
And when this happens you can still actually feel your legs with your fingertips, even though you might think, “My leg feels numb.”
The tingling or prickly feeling is usually caused by innocent nerve compression from sitting on a toilet for too long, sitting in your computer chair or TV sofa for too long in the same position, prolonged leg crossing or perhaps a prolonged compressing position during sleep – which can make your leg feel “dead.”
And you’ll notice that the tingling or “pins and needles” disappears after the source of external compression is removed.
While some women fear ovarian cancer might be causing numbness in a leg, other women (and men) may panic over the idea of a DVT: deep vein thrombosis.
Dr. Riobe says, “Leg numbness can also be caused by a blood clot in a major blood vessel or nutritional deficits leading to poor nerve conduction or circulation.”
There is no data that gives a percentage of likelihood of what’s causing numbness in a leg.
For example, nobody can say, “Okay, the odds that numbness in a leg is being caused by ovarian cancer is 23 percent; the odds that it’s being caused by diabetes is 55 percent; fibromyalgia, four percent.”
However, the likelihood that numbness in a leg is being generated by an ovarian tumor increases if other suspicious symptoms are present, such as, as mentioned, abdominal distention (from fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity caused by the tumor), pelvic cramps and loss of appetite.
Other Non-Cancerous Causes of Leg Numbness
• Meralgia paresthetica (affects outer thigh)
• Lumbar disc hernia
• Lumbar degenerative disc disease
• Lumbar spinal narrowing
• Spondylolisthesis (structural problem with vertebra)
• Spinal tuberculosis
• Tarsal tunnel syndrome (yes, just like carpal tunnel except affecting the foot)
• Restless leg syndrome
• Spinal cord inflammation
• Multiple sclerosis
• Marfan syndrome (genetic disorder characterized by tallness)
If your leg numbness comes and goes in synch with certain body positions on seats, sofas and beds or in a motor vehicle, immediately resolving when you exit the offending position, you can be reassured that this symptom is not being caused by ovarian cancer.
But if you’re having other suspicious symptoms that point to this disease, have your ovaries checked out.