According to a recent article, a woman dealing with chronic fatigue and multiple UTI’s was not diagnosed with ovarian cancer until she was rushed into the hospital after collapsing.
Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the ovaries. An ovary is one of two almond-shaped organs found on each side of the uterus that store eggs and produces the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Depending on the type and stage, malignant cells are found inside, near, or on the outer layer of the ovaries. Common areas where the cancer may spread from the ovary include the abdomen lining, bowel and bladder lining, lymph nodes, lungs, and liver. There are four types of ovarian cancers:
- Epithelial tumors, which refer to the thin layer of tissue that covers the ovaries and account for 90% of ovarian cancer cases
- Germ cell carcinoma tumors, in which the cancer begins in the cells that form the eggs and account for 5% of ovarian cancer diagnoses
- Stromal carcinoma tumors, in which the cancer develops in the connective tissue cells that hold the ovary together and produce estrogen and progesterone and account for 5% of ovarian cancer diagnoses
- Small cell carcinoma of the ovary (SCCO), which is a rare, highly malignant tumor that accounts for 0.1% of ovarian cancer diagnoses
The staging of ovarian cancers is the following:
- Stage I: Cancer is found in one or both ovaries
- Stage II: Cancer has spread to the pelvis
- Stage III: Cancer has spread to the abdomen
- Stage IV: Cancer has spread to other parts of the body
The frequency and/or number of symptoms are key factors in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer, and symptoms become more noticeable as the cancer progresses. Common symptoms include:
- Pelvic pain
- Abdominal swelling
- Loss of appetite
- Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
Symptoms of a cancer within the stromal carcinoma group include:
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Endometrial hyperplasia (thickening of the uterus that causes bleeding)
- Breast tenderness
- Vaginal secretions
- Virilizing symptoms due to increased testosterone
- Increased abdominal girth
- Enlarging abdominal mass
- Irregularities in the menstrual cycle
Hannah Catton’s Story
A 24-year-old woman named Hannah Catton started having frequent UTI’s and was experiencing significant stomach bloating. When she went to her doctor, she was told it was just stress-related and would most likely go away.
However, after dealing with this for two years, she collapsed in severe pain while horseback riding. She was then taken to the hospital where she would later be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Catton had a 20-centimeter large tumor on her ovaries, which had been causing the UTI’s, fatigue, and bloating. It had ruptured while she was out riding, which had caused the excruciating pain.
The experience was incredibly frustrating for her since she had been to a number of doctors complaining about her various symptoms, and none seemed to listen. Their only answers were to lose weight and find ways to de-stress. Since she went undiagnosed until her tumor ruptured, Catton had to undergo chemotherapy as well. Fortunately, her odds of recovering are high.
Using Her Story to Inspire Others
Hannah Catton spent years fighting to get doctors to listen, she knew something was not right with her body and fought to get care. Her experience was very difficult, so she hopes by sharing her story it will inspire other women to fight when they know something in their body is wrong.