Subtle symptoms of a 'silent' killer

Things every woman should know about ovarian cancer

Published On: Oct 14 2012 10:04:18 PM EDT   Updated On: Oct 15 2012 06:20:00 AM EDT

Doctors call it the "silent" killer for a reason.  Ovarian cancer kills 15,000 women a year and by the time most women are diagnosed it's too late for effective treatment.  There are subtle symptoms every woman should know about that could save lives.

Lisa was diagnosed four years ago, and she's still fighting.

“I haven’t really had much of a remission period.  It’s been a constant battle," she said.

Ovarian cancer kills nearly three out of four late-stage patients within five years but experts say if it's diagnosed in the earliest stage, it's more than 90 percent curable.

The following symptoms could signal a problem: Bloating, heartburn, feeling full quickly, pelvic pain, and the frequent need to urinate.  Experts say fatigue, upset stomach, back pain, pain during intercourse and constipation can also be warning signs if they last longer than two weeks.

The best precaution is an annual 'complete pelvic exam.'  While 10 percent of cases are hereditary, studies show the stuff found in greens like broccoli and spinach can cut your risks by 40-precent.  Two cups of black tea a day can cut your risk by 46 percent and fiber from grains and flax seed can also reduce your risk.

In the meantime, it turns out being tall could put you at a disadvantage. Oxford researchers found that taller women are actually more at risk of developing ovarian cancer. They found each five  centimeters of height equaled a seven percent higher risk.

Read more about Ovarian Cancer symptoms and prevention from the Mayo Clinic.