Ovarian Cancer Misdiagnosed as Perimenopause: Jane’s Story

Just about two years ago, Jane Warrimer began experiencing abnormal menstruation. Her period was no longer regular; her bleeding lasted for weeks at a time. After pursuing an IUD, Jane ended up getting sepsis. Her symptoms continued to worsen, but doctors seemed pretty sure that Jane’s symptoms were just related to perimenopause. However, Jane told 7News, by February 2021, she had been diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer. Now, Jane advocates for women to trust themselves and continue pursuing help if they feel that it is necessary.

Jane’s Story

Now, at age 50, Jane looks back at her journey. After getting sepsis, Jane felt concerned that there were no solutions to her discomfort and abnormal bleeding. Her other symptoms included unintended weight gain and severe abdominal pain. She figured that she would eventually go through menopause, relieving the symptoms she was feeling. At the same time, Jane had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. She had a family history of bowel cancer and questioned if that could be the cause. But blood tests and other tests showed nothing wrong – so doctors believed it to be perimenopause.

In February 2021, Jane pursued even more testing – which shifted the trajectory of her future. After undergoing a CT scan, doctors discovered a 4kg (approximately 8.8 pound) tumor in Jane’s left ovary. The ovarian cancer had also metastasized to various lymph nodes. She had surgery to have the cancer removed and later entered remission following chemotherapy treatment.

Ultimately, Jane is not upset at the doctors for originally misdiagnosing her. Rather, she acknowledges that medical professionals are doing their best to help. In the end, she advocates for women to proactively seek help, and to trust themselves, if they feel that something is wrong.

About Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer forms in the ovaries, or almond-shaped organs found on each side of the uterus. Normally, the ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone, as well as store eggs. Ovarian cancer can be found in different areas of the ovaries and, without treatment, may metastasize to other organs. Subtypes of this cancer include epithelial tumors (90% of diagnoses); germ cell carcinoma tumors (5% of diagnoses); stromal carcinoma tumors (5% of diagnoses); and small cell carcinoma of the ovary (0.1% of diagnoses).

In many cases, doctors do not know the exact cause of ovarian cancer. However, BRCA gene mutations (BRCA1 or BRCA2) significantly increase the risk of ovarian cancer. In fact, these mutations increase the risk by 10-30x. Symptoms of ovarian cancer vary depending on the specific type. Altogether, symptoms can include:

  • Pelvic and abdominal pain and swelling
  • Appetite loss
  • Changes in urinary urgency or frequency
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion
  • Fatigue
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding or vaginal secretions
  • Breast tenderness
  • Menstrual irregularities

Learn more about ovarian cancer.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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