“Menstrual irregularities are a reported symptom of ovarian cancer,” says Robin Cohen, former oncology RN and currently the CEO and co-founder of the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation.
Cohen adds that menstrual changes “do not present in all women depending on size and location of the [ovarian cancer] mass.
“It is not a symptom used to diagnose ovarian cancer because, much like other ovarian cancer symptoms, menstrual irregularities are found frequently in the general population of women without cancer.”
If your only symptom lately is a change in the dynamics of your monthly cycle, this is far more likely to have a cause other than ovarian cancer.
This is especially true if you’re in your 40s and even 30s (periomenopause), or are on birth control pills or injections.
Other Causes of New-Onset Menstrual Irregularities or Changes (no particular order)
• Polycystic ovary syndrome (benign condition, cannot lead to cancer)
• Uterine fibroids
• Uterine polyps
• Anorexia Nervosa
• Bulimia Nervosa
• Thyroid disease
• Untreated diabetes
• Pituitary disorder
• IUD use
• Side effect of some medications
Uterine cancer can cause vaginal bleeding which mimics a change in menstruation.
Because alterations or irregularities in a woman’s period is so common in the general population, this situation needs to be taken in a larger context:
Are you also suffering from other symptoms that are consistent with ovarian cancer? These include:
• abdominal discomfort or bloating
• an increase in abdominal girth
• smaller appetite
• pelvic pain or heaviness
• feeling a need to urinate despite voiding
• back or leg pain. period
Keep in mind that the cause of any changes in your monthly cycle may not be related to the cause of any other symptoms that you’re having.
So for instance, you might be undergoing periomenopause while also experiencing the symptoms of a benign ovarian cyst (which can mimic the symptoms of ovarian cancer).
“The treatment of ovarian cancer is often a full hysterectomy, which leads to early menopause,” adds Cohen.