Most women won’t show symptoms of ovarian cancer until later stages, and even then the signs will be vague. One of the most common symptoms is bloating, which could also point to everything from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to a bad diet, says Dr Brunilda Nazario, lead medical editor at WebMD. “Would ovarian cancer be on the list? Absolutely, but low on the list,” says Dr Nazario. If you suspect ovarian cancer, getting genetic testing that reveals a family history can drive a diagnosis quicker, she says.
This autoimmune disease can attack almost every system in your body, showing up as fever, fatigue, facial rash, skin lesions, shortness of breath, dry eyes and more. “If you meet all the symptoms, that’s an easy diagnosis,” says Dr Albert Ahn, a clinical instructor at NYU Langone Health in the USA. “Unfortunately, the vast majority of patients do not.” Adding to the confusion for doctors, a patient’s blood tests might appear completely normal. Lupus can also look similar to rheumatoid arthritis, he says. Your doctor might try several treatments before diagnosing lupus; the hope is that you have a condition that is easier to treat or manage.
Fibromyalgia symptoms are so vague that some doctors have questioned its existence even though the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognises it. “Classically, they suffer from two things: fatigue and diffuse body pain,” says Dr Nazario. “Neither one of those things is visible to the eye.” You can’t test levels of exhaustion and pain the way you could, say, a fever, and the two are so vague that doctors need to rule out a laundry list of other diseases before blaming it on fibromyalgia. To speed up the diagnosis, Dr Nazario recommends going to your doctor, not just with the symptom (“I’m fatigued”) but how it affects you (“I don’t have the energy to walk my kid to school”).