Don’t Ignore the Signs - Incontinence could be an early symptom of Ovarian Cancer

The Continence Foundation’s latest National Survey1, highlighted that incontinence is incorrectly perceived as normal, with 63% or people believing that some incontinence following childbirth is normal and 48% believing it was an inevitable part of ageing. This perception combined with the stigma associated with the condition contributes to an alarming 62% of those who have or are experiencing incontinence not speaking to a health professional about their symptoms.

It’s important to be aware that urinary incontinence isn't a disease, rather it's a symptom than can be caused by everyday habits, underlying medical conditions or physical problems. While for many the root cause will be benign, changes in bathroom habits can be an indicator of serious underlying health issues and may be the earliest warning sign of several diseases including Ovarian Cancer with other signs and symptoms including:

Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer


One study2 that reviewed the medical records of 107 women diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found that urinary symptoms and abdominal cramping were the most commonly documented presenting symptoms in patients with Stage I and II Ovarian Cancer. The study also reported that 18% of the women had incontinence that proceeded to get worse over 2 or 3 weeks, with the lead researcher Barbara P. Yawn, MD noting that "Incontinence usually happens gradually over several years, not that quickly".

In Australia Ovarian Cancer is the deadliest female cancer with 4 women diagnosed every day, sadly for many the disease has already progressed, and over the years it has earned the reputation of being the “Silent killer” as diagnosis often comes too late for effective treatment. So if you or a loved one you know has developed incontinence or is experiencing changes in bowel habits, take action this Ovarian Cancer month and if you haven’t already make your doctor aware of your symptoms and rule out any underlying causes of the changes you have experienced.



1) CONTINENCE IN AUSTRALIA A SNAPSHOT, A report by the Continence Foundation Australia, June 2019

2) Ovarian Cancer: The Neglected Diagnosis Yawn, Barbara P. et al.Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Volume 79, Issue 10, 1277 - 1282

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