Has anyone experienced fatigue as a first early symptom of OC?

Dear Ladies - quite a while before any other symptoms developed, I began to experience occasional bouts of overwhelming fatigue, and am interested in finding out if this is a common first symptom. I didn't have any pelvic pain or bloating for some months after the unusual fatigue began, and it didn't occur to me that I should see a

doctor as I put it down to my age and because it only happened occasionally - it wasn't a daily occurrence. At the time, OC wasn't on my horizon, but with hindsight I'm convinced that fatigue was the first sign something was amiss.

If this should appear to be the case, then perhaps fatigue should be given greater prominence as a likely early, first symptom of OC than it is in the available literature at present.

If any of you, like me, experienced unusual fatigue months/a year or more - before any other symptoms of OC appeared, and couldn't fathom why you were so exhausted, could you please reply to my post - it would be very much appreciated.

Thank you

Jill xxx

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28 Replies

  • Hi Jill, yes I definitely did, couple of months before. Like you I put it down to age. X

  • I did but I thought it was age! In fact I put all my symptoms down to ageing until I could not eat!

    I think I was feeling weary for about 4 years before I was diagnosed at the age of 69!

    Later symptoms were flatulence, bloating, indigestion, reflux, and finally inability to swallow more than a few mouthfuls in that order. Little or mo pain!

    I was still cycling 10-20 miles a day, doing 6 aqua aerobics classes a week and an hour in the gym several times including rowing, cycling, cross fit, walking, machines and gym ball. I also cycled 5 miles each way to and from the gym and walked the mile into town regularly! As a result I was not surprised to get bouts of total exhaustion! Most people in their late 60's are much less active!

    Hope this helps!


  • Mot to mention my very healthy diet! LOL!

  • Hi Aurelie

    This is a good question. I went to my GP when I felt exhausted. That was probably the thing that prompted the visit because I was struggling to keep up with a full-time job which involved a lot of travelling. The other thing in the back of my mind which I shared with the doctor but which I hadn't thought was a worry was loss of appetite. I was quite pleased to be shedding some weight - so yes - fatigue was what prompted me to seek medical advice.

    xxx Annie

  • Hi Aurelie,

    I was getting very tired which I put down to being quite active and the ageing process. I didn't suffer from loss of appetite. Bloating was a problem and though always there seemed to fluctuate in intensity. I also had a fair amount of backache but then as I've had problems with my back for years again I didn't take any notice. What sent me to the GP was a bleed - which I actually thought was due to the medication I was taking following breast cancer!

    The tiredness issue definitely sounds worthy of more research!

    Zannah x

  • Hi Aurelie I found with my recurrence of OV that I get very very tired mine on the march again and on Saturday I went home from work at 5 30 pm went to bed and slept till 6 30 am Sunday, so sure there is some link there.

    Love Jenny xxx

  • Hi Jill. I went to see my GP in early 2012. I had had a chest infection and flu before Christmas 11 and thought the tiredness I was feeling was from that. After blood investigations it was decided I had an under active thyroid and I was finally commenced on Thyroid meds in the summer of 2012. Things improved slightly but I still got very tired which I just put down to my thyroid problem. Your question is interesting, maybe my tiredness was down to the Ov cancer all along, I don't know. I do know it got much worse in the months from Jan to June 13 when I eventually had my surgery. Ann

  • Yes I had really bad tiredness but like some of the others put it down to very physical employment and age certainly a possability connected

  • I, too, had overwhelming fatigue for several years before the diagnosis of OC. Because I was told the tumour discovered by an internal scan was 'probably' benign, and was treated with hormones which made me very unwell I assumed the fatigue was age and treatment related.

    During the hormone treatment I became hypothyroid, which has fatigue as a symptom as well, so now I really don't know what to put this particular symptom down to!!!

    It took several years of constantly 'complaining' about all the symptoms, and an eventual move to a new GP practice to get the correct diagnosis and treatment.

    Having said all that, I do believe that fatigue is a symptom of many cancers, having nursed my late mother and late husband through cancers, and they both said how tired they were for quite a while before cancer was diagnosed.

    Jill, stay strong and live well. Rest when you can.

    (A quick aside for those of you lovely ladies who have read my previous posts, I was unbelievably lucky to re-marry after losing my husband to renal carcinoma. Hence my occasional reference to the wonderful 'new' husband who is making life so much more bearable during this OC nonsense!)

    Alex xxx

  • hello. I agree fully with you. It was exhaustion and fatigue that made me attend with my GP initially. Had been on holidays and was tired all the time, bed early (which is not me) but thought it was just the stress lifting as I had a very busy & responsible job. But it continued. Thankfully my GP sent me to a consultant surgeon and was admitted to hospital for tests. It was diagnosed as an abdominal mass - but as the CA reading was nil... OC was not considered. Had various tests, scans, MRI, x-rays and medics advised surgery. Full hysterectomy etc - all things out, and as my surgeon said - he had a good look & "poke" and all clear. However, when the histology was done on parts taken out - OC was found. Any way - that is the long story. But as you can see - I clearly would recommend any woman with unexplained tiredness/fatigue - to go to GP and nag for tests. Hope all OK with you. Daisies

  • On a more humorous note - how I envy those women who lost their appetites & ability to eat. I had that also,but the weight did not shift which amazed both medics and myself. At this point, I joke with my oncologist that I will have to be airlifted into the day-ward every 3 weeks if this continues. His response was - they love when people put on weight. Was at a function last week and a male ex-colleague was telling me how well I looked and the "extra weigh"t suited me!!!!! My female friends at the function had a good laugh. WIll men ever learn.

  • I was so exhausted, I left work the year before diagnosis. Nobody could understand why I did and I was getting pressure to apply for jobs. I knew I was too ill to do that. X

  • Yes, yes, yes......for about three years before I was sent for investigations. I was told on several occasions, it was anaemia (iron pills were prescribed), it was my age, it was my job...stressful...., it was TATT, which I believe is the medical euphemism for a bit of a time waster. Some days, towards the end of the time I was searching for a reason why, I could hardly walk upstairs. On a few occasions I almost passed out, getting dizzy when I was trying to walk anywhere. I hasten to add I was fairly fit before these symptoms and since my op. I did a half marathon three years after my op and regularly walk around five miles now. My advice to anyone who is experiencing something like this that you just KNOW isn't right is keep pestering the GP. I don't go there very often, so they should have seen that there was something a bit awry.

    Love Wendy xx

  • Hi Jill. A very interesting question regarding fatigue. I think when a lady gets to a "certain age" then tiredness creeps in, and we put that down to age and lifestyle. Some may not agree but that's what happened to me. I was very very tired for some time and I thought it was all work and no play, looking after an aged mum and just general things. I also was loosing weight, but did attend a Rosemary Conley diet and fitness class, so loosing weight was what I wanted. I never thought to go to the doctor and just muddled through. I never had any symptoms of OC - I had post menopausal bleeding (not a recognised sign), I did had a bug belly but thought it was middle age spread. I went to GP and wham bam, blow me down, I was tested and diagnosed 3C, and told I had OC for 2 years or more!!!

    Good luck with your research - it's interesting to read other ladies signs and symptoms and maybe a change/addition to the literature is a good thing.

    Love n hugs Izzystep xxxx

  • My extreme fatigue prompted the visit to the doctor..iron tablets prescribed....cysts and fibroids still being investigated as such x

  • Hi, I'm 42 and had had some demanding and stressful jobs which I managed well. I changed jobs a couple of years before diagnosis and experienced extreme fatigue as well as picking up every bug going. Lots of well meaning friends and colleagues said it was just the new job and being in a school environment but I remember saying "this isn't me", previously I worked in Social care and frontline homeless services so I really dont consider a school to be any more physically challenging than the environments I'd been in. I used to hang on until a Friday evening and as soon as I sat down I would sleep all through the evening and with no sense of being rested the next day or indeed ever. If I didn't make supper before I sat down then there was no supper!!

    I think my point is that I knew what my 'normal' was and something drastic changed! I think the 'Be Clear on Cancer' literature includes 'extreme fatigue' as a possible symptom and it's interesting to hear others experiences, Sxx

  • Hi there

    I also experienced this....put it down to massive stress I was under at work. ...another very common thread on these boards. Like Wendy I had severe anaemia.

    charlie xxxxx

  • I feel as if I know you all ; read site regularly , but feel that I have never had much to add and much to admire .

    However , I am absolutely with all the above comments . Exhausted, exhausted, exhausted for years , in a full time teaching post with endless sore throats and loss of voice due to infections , not poor control ...all put down to menopause /age and work load . I also have a long history of poly cystic ovarian syndrome ( since 15 )...and lost an Ovary and a half when I was 25 to dermoid tumour . Yet , always spotty , and other PCOS symptoms continued till I was diagnosed with OC in April 2011 . With hindsight , " hair loss " thinning put down to ...you've guessed it ...age ! ( my mother of 92 has full head of splendid hair )

    For five years before diagnosis I had been to dermatologists, GP endocrinologists, GP... Gynaes GP ... I was convinced I was in bad health but couldn't find out why ... and no one did a blood test ever , apart from Gp ...a eureka moment with high cholesterol discovered .!! I put on weight and couldn't lose it ...not bloating , I have to say , but metabolism sluggish and matronly appearence and no reason but " at your age " etc . Wonderful GP behind me but knew nothing about OC as it turned out , and all put down to PCOS ...I have remained convinced that a link will be found eventually .

    In the first year , I ranted about this constantly and my wonderful Oncologist did take me seriously ...but I have run out of steam .

    So , no real syptoms until ....

    My husband was taken seriously ill in March 2011 , and I was in anxiety meltdown , running a dept , son in first term of Uni ...and swelling up like having quads ! I went into hospital as my husband came out ...and I have had recurring oc since ....ironically comes back just as I am feeling energetic !!

    On 4th line of chemo ...had forgotten much of the above until nudged ; I now know lots of women who feel it's all hormones in that they have had histories of upsets .

    On a positive note to others who are younger , I had son at 42 with that half ovary ...and he graduated with a 2:1 , even though we have both been horribly ill . Husband back teaching full time and I am retired... thank goodness .

    Good luck with all of this ...when I am less fatigued ....

  • Hi Jill,

    I was very fatigued, I had bags under my eyes and was exhausted, I thought it was my working hours, but the bags under my eyes went as soon as my tumour was removed. I know my tiredness had a direct relationship.

    Although I feel tired at the moment I'm hoping that is because of my lazy thyroid and nothing more worrying.

    Great question.

    LA xx

  • I look back at photo's now and see that in July 2012 i really got 'bloated' and started feeling so very tired all the time - by the time i got my diagnosis a year later i could hardly walk up the stairs at work as it felt like i was climbing a mountain :-( xx

  • Thank you so much, everyone, for your replies - very interesting indeed. I need to post the same question on as many OC forums as possible - there must quite a few of them out there - and I'll keep you posted regarding progress.

    Fingers tightly crossed!

    Jill xxx

  • Hi Jill, nice to see you on here and hope you are well. Yes, definitely. I started to feel exhausted about 2 years before the pain started but blamed it on changing my job. I had blood tests but nothing out of the ordinary. However I was prescribed Naproxen for tennis elbow and a sprained wrist and found that these also made me feel less tired, so after diagnosis I was interested to read DrDu's posts on NSAIDs. I think they may have held the cancer at bay.

  • I was the same. Extremely exhausted all the time. I put it down to my job as I was travelling different time zones all the time. Could not understand why after years of flying I suddenly became so tired. All the other symptoms followed

  • Dawn and Trolleydolly, thank you so much for posting.

    A little plea to any ladies who might be looking in, but who don't usually post: we need as many people as possible, who experienced fatigue prior to any other symptoms of OC appearing, to please post on this thread. I'm hoping that, if there are sufficient numbers of us, fatigue will be given greater prominence in leaflets and on posters, and women will become aware of the likely significance of early and unusual fatigue and see their GP sooner rather than later.

    Thank you

    Jill x

  • I've been wondering about this too - partly because it seems to have disappeared.

    I was diagnosed with underactive thyroid a good few ( i.e. I can't remember) years ago - went to the GP because I had to sleep as soon as I got home from work. Thyroid pills probably had some effect but I continued to have an afternoon nap whenever I could. I've always been a very early riser and busy and put it down to that.

    I finished treatment 3 months ago for first recurrence OC. I'm feeling very well, but the thing that is really puzzling me is no longer needing my naps..... yep, probably wishful thinking, I know, but interesting nevertheless. I certainly would expect the tiredness to come back as and when there's another recurrence. Thanks for kicking off this interesting thread.

  • Hi there, this is the first time I've responded I think! I was diagnosed in mid Dec. last yr. I have suffered with hormonal problems since puberty... Heavy periods as a teenager, Puerperal Psychosis after birth of first daughter, mainly due to extreme fatigue then, auto immune problems with some abnormalities with my platelets ( which was not thought to be anything to worry about by my GP ) then diagnosis of depression during menopause, when tiredness again was main reason for visiting GP. So last May I was put on anti-depressants again with no blood tests, and become unable to work because of it. In October I went to GP with migraine probs and suggested I had blood tests! These showed I had liver prob and very high blood pressure. GP cut my anti-d in half thinking that was the cause of liver count, and further blood test eventually showed high cancer markers. So I was then fast tracked to Addenbrookes end of Nov. and diagnosed with Stage 4 OC secondaries in liver and lung. Now undergoing chemo ... Due 5th of 6 next week, and told very little chance of surgery. I am sure fatigue should be taken more seriously by everyone as a symptom of an illness or disease. From my experience, it is not just laziness on the part of the sufferer, and should be followed up with thorough blood tests. I have been in and out of hospital from end January but home and coping with my symptoms reasonably thanks to my wonderful husband, family, and help from GP and district nurse, for over a month now. I am learning a lot in a short time which , I guess, can be said for all of us! It is good to know I am not alone in this daily journey. Thanks for giving me space to write and to anyone who has got this far reading my words!! God bless you all. Enjoy the sunshine , just soak it up and don't worry about yourselves . Let someone else do that for you! That's what I aim to do. If I can help anyone learn from my experiences then it will have been worth it.

  • Hi after reading this it does make you think, I had been feeling so tired during the day normally just after lunch that I could have just shut my eyes at work some days and also my husband would comment that I would sound out of breath on the phone sometimes if I'd rushed to answer the phone or walk up stairs, like a lot of ladies I just put it down to work or age. Since my op I do have days were I still feel tired but I never sound out of breath or as tired as I used to.

  • Mac, Catharine and Ladyone - thank you for responding.

    Catharine, please post on HU whenever you feel in need of support and understanding - there is always someone around to 'talk' to - no need to feel alone. Best of luck with your treatment and hope it will give you a good remission.

    Jill xx

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