Long-term bloating may be a symptom of ovarian cancer

Listen to what your body is saying and seek help if you notice prolonged bloating.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer can be many and varied, but bloating is one that women often overlook.

Prolong bloating may be a sign of a more serious health issue the should be addressed by your physician.

Luz Pena says she experienced bloating for two years before seeking help.

She thought it must be something she was eating, but in a recent British study, half of the women agreed they often would change their diet before seeing a doctor.

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And Pena said everyone she would complain to thought nothing serious of her symptoms.

"You're 40. You're supposed to have that," Pena said they told her.

The problem for patients like Pena is her symptoms were telling her she had ovarian cancer.

"This is a disease that has a ton of symptoms. They're just easy to blow off," said Dr. Shannon Westin, a gynecologic oncologist.

Westin says ovarian cancer symptoms are mild but persistent: bloating, feeling full quickly, extreme fatigue. If you experience those symptoms, it doesn't always mean you have cancer, but Westin says almost all ovarian cancer patients have had those symptoms.

"If I have a patient that is having something for more than two weeks, then I’m concerned. Then I want them to come in and get an evaluation," said Westin.

Pena is in remission now and works with her local cancer center’s "Active Living after Cancer Program." She says it helps to be more in tune with her body and healthier overall.

"It really changed my life. I’ve been very active, I’ve lost weight, a lot," Pena said.

Doctors say listening to what your body is saying can be an important early warning system.

If you have symptoms that are persistent, you should talk to your physician.