It has long been known as a silent cancer killer. Ovarian cancer, which affects more than 21,000 American women each year, is known for its cluster of vague, subtle symptoms like bloating that are often overlooked.
That’s why 80 percent of cases are not diagnosed until the disease has spread, and half don’t survive longer than five years.
Now a young former patient has detailed the two confusing signs of her tumor – which was the size of a football at the time of its discovery.
The TikTok influencer Dr. Amy shared her shock cancer story with her 45,000 followers to warn others about the little-known signs.
In a video published in October, at the age of 30, she opened up about her confusion over the diagnosis as she lacked any risk factors.
“I was already doing everything right to prevent cancer,” says Amy, who worked at a local cancer center.
“Eat right, exercise…or so I thought.” That’s why in this video I’ll show you exactly what my symptoms were. “These are things that most people miss… sharing my story could save your life.”
At the time of Amy’s diagnosis In 2017, she was living a “pretty average life.” She had recently bought her first house with her fiancée and got married three months later.
But shortly after returning from a two-week honeymoon in Italy and Greece, the first symptoms appeared.
Dr. Amy Fans had a 21cm tumor removed from her ovary and also from the ovary itself.
“After two weeks of overindulgence, I obviously gained a little weight,” says Amy, who posts regularly Health tips on her popular channel.
“Nothing big, maybe five pounds or something.” I kind of brushed it off, but even weeks later it didn’t seem to go away.
“I knew my body really well,” she adds. “I eat well, I exercise.” But I haven’t lost any weight. If anything, I’ve gained weight.’
But then came “symptom number one” that set alarm bells ringing.
“I had constant heartburn,” she says. “I had constant heartburn. This had never happened to me before. I had to keep Tums in my desk drawer at the hospital because I just couldn’t get through a day without them. “My inner voice said something was wrong.”
Finally, Amy visited her family doctor, who, among other things, carried out tests for ulcers, all of which were negative. The doctor then sent her to the hospital for an ultrasound scan.
“It was Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. when my doctor’s name popped up on my phone. “I stood frozen at my kitchen counter,” she says. “She said, ‘You have a tumor on your ovary. It measures 21cm x 10cm. I’m sorry, you have cancer.”
Amy first began suffering symptoms of ovarian cancer weeks after returning from a European honeymoon.
Amy was diagnosed with stage three disease, meaning the cancer has spread outside the ovary. Less than 40 percent of women diagnosed at this stage survive more than five years.
Later in the video, the doctor explains why ovarian cancer is linked to heartburn.
“The size of the tumor was putting pressure on my intestines and stomach,” she says. “It gave me acid reflux.” “My stomach ran out of room.”
Shortly after her diagnosis, Amy began grueling treatment. First, she had to undergo major surgery to remove the tumor and her stomach was fixed with 33 surgical staples.
“The surgery was the easy part. Chemo was next. The side effects scared me. And rightly so.’ The treatment left Amy “so exhausted,” nauseated and “depressed,” but it destroyed the cancer cells.
Now, six years later, she is still cancer-free. “Even with just one ovary, my husband and I were able to expand our family,” she says of her two “miracle” children.
“I am living proof that you can really put everything on one card.”
WHY ovarian cancer is called the “silent killer.”
About 80 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage of the disease.
By the time of diagnosis, 60 percent of ovarian cancers have already spread to other parts of the body, reducing the five-year survival rate from 90 percent in the early stages to 30 percent.
According to Dr. According to Ronny Drapkin, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has been researching the disease for more than two decades, the disease is diagnosed so late because of its location in the pelvis.
“The pelvis is like a bowl, so a tumor there can get quite large before it actually becomes visible,” said Dr. Drapkin told MailOnline.
The first symptoms that appear with ovarian cancer are gastrointestinal in nature, as tumors can begin to push upward.
When a patient complains of gastrointestinal symptoms, doctors are more likely to focus on dietary changes and other causes than on early detection of ovarian cancer.
Dr. Drapkin said that typically only after a patient experiences persistent gastrointestinal symptoms does he receive a screening to detect the cancer.
“Ovarian cancer is often referred to as a silent killer because it has no early symptoms, although it does have symptoms, they are just very general in nature and could be caused by other things,” he said.
“One of the things I tell women is that no one knows your body like you do.” “If you feel like something’s wrong, there’s probably something wrong.”