Woman, 29, looked ’20 weeks pregnant’ prior to cancer diagnosis

Cancer symptoms: Top 14 early signs to look out for

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A 29-year-old woman is looking forward to getting her life back on track after her bloated belly turned out to be a rare cancer complication. Victoria Grande, from North Carolina in the US, suffered with abdominal pain for 10 years and looked “20 weeks pregnant” due to an 11 centimetre cyst on her ovary. Further examination showed she had 100 tumours growing inside her – a condition known as teratoma syndrome.

Bartender Victoria struggled with abdominal pain all her life and was used to suffering with urinary tract infections at least once a month.

Doctors would put her pain down to constipation, but Victoria’s symptoms got worse in March 2022 and left her “bent over in pain”.

She ended up at the emergency room and was taken for a CT scan, which revealed the 11 centimetre cyst on her right ovary in April 2022. Doctors believed it had been growing for 28 years.

Speaking to SWNS, Victoria said: “They told me it was likely wrapping around my ovary and cutting off my blood supply. They said it would keep growing unless I had surgery to get it out.

“The cyst was so big it was pushing my organs up and it was like I was 20 weeks pregnant inside my body.”

Victoria had keyhole surgery to cut the cyst up and remove it in April 2022.

She said: “It was a really painful recovery as all my organs were going back into place.”

The cyst was taken off for a biopsy and the results came back as positive for cancer.

“I saw it on my health app and I said to my fiancé, Austin Cureton, 32 – ‘I think I have cancer,’” Victoria said. “It turns out the cyst had grown skin which had developed cancer and now it could be inside of me.”

She was told she needed surgery to see if the cancer had spread to other areas of her body and doctors were shocked to find 100 growing tumours when they opened her up.

Victoria said: “They closed me back up and told me what they had found. They said they would have to take everything out that has a tumour.”

She was diagnosed with growing teratoma syndrome, a rare complication of teratoma – a type of tumour that may contain several different types of tissue, such as hair, muscle, and bone.

Victoria had a 10 hour surgery in June 2022 to remove the tumours as well as two pieces of her lung, right fallopian tube, her right ovary, gallbladder and appendix – which all showed signs of cancer.

A month later Victoria was started on chemotherapy, which she finished in October 2022 after six rounds, making her losing her hair

She’s now on medication and has a CT scan every 13 months to check the cancer hasn’t returned.

Despite everything, Victoria remained positive and decided to colour her shaved hair pink in February 2023 – and decorated it with blonde hearts and a little cancer ribbon at the back of her head.

“I love my bald head,” she said. “I wanted to turn it into something fun and my favourite colour is pink.”

She is now planning to travel as much as she can in the next few years.

Symptoms of ovarian cysts and tumours can include:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain shortly before or after the start of menstruation
  • Pressure, swelling or pain in the abdomen
  • A dull ache in the lower back and thighs
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Pain during sex
  • Abnormal bleeding.

Common signs of ovarian cancer include:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Early satiety (feeling full quickly) or difficulty eating
  • A need to urinate frequently or urgently.

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