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Early Warning Signs of Ovarian Cancer

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There are many faces of ovarian cancer. Loretta Young... Gilda Radner... Dinah Shore... Madeline Kahn. Annette Leal Mattern is another.

Annette Lea Mattern/ Ovarian Cancer Survivor: "I'm here as a survivor. I've had ovarian cancer twice, and at one point in my life I was told that I probably would not live through that occurance. I ignored the signs until it was very, very late."

Stacey Hartmann, who was diagnosed with advanced stage ovarian cancer in July of 2000, also remembers having symptoms.

Stacey Hartmann/ National Ovarian Cancer Coalition: "More than a year before, I noticed a little belly that wouldn't go away. Even though I was exercising, I was working out and was in great shape, I had a little pooch that wouldn't go away."

Gynecologic oncologist Doctor Barbara Goff says ovarian cancer is not a silent killer. There are symptoms, even when the cancer is early and most treatable.

Dr. Barbara Goff/ University of Washington: "The symptoms that are most typically associated with ovarian cancer would be abdominal bloating, increased abdominal size, urinary symptoms, particularly urinary pressure, abdominal pain, pelvic pain, pressure sorts of symptoms. But none of these symptoms are necessarily severe symptoms."

She says women need to pay attention to their bodies. If things seem different, get checked.

Spotting cancer early is still the best way to improve survival.

Annette Leal Mattern: "My story is really to let people know that you can go through what many people fear and you can come out of it whole. You can come out of it happy, and that you really need to look at everything that's going on in your life and help the medical team to have the best possible results for you."

The best way to protect yourself against ovarian cancer is to inform yourself.. The more knowledge you have, the more control you have over your health.

These early symptoms are fairly common and nonspecific. If something seems to persist or is severe, talk to your doctor and have an exam to get things checked.

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