What are the signs & symptoms of ovarian cancer?

The signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer can be easy to miss. They may  be difficult to notice or detect because the ovaries are located deep within the abdominal cavity. They can also be mistaken for other health issues. Often, the signs and symptoms are subtle, making ovarian cancer difficult to detect in its early stages. This is why only about 20% of cases are diagnosed in the early stages (stages I-II). Often symptoms don’t appear until the disease is in its advanced stages (stages III-IV).

Common symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

Bloating
Bloating

  • You may notice swelling in the lower pelvis or abdomen and clothes around the waist may feel tighter than normal
Pelvic or abdominal pain
Pelvic or abdominal pain

  • Pain in abdomen, back or pelvis
Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
Trouble eating or feeling full quickly

  • Feeling full after eating only a few bites or loss of appetite
Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
Urinary frequency

  • Feeling the need to urinate more frequently

Less common symptoms of ovarian cancer:

Pain during sex
Pain during sex

  • Discomfort or pain during sex
Back pain
Back pain

  • Pain or discomfort in the lower back
Fatigue
Fatigue

  • Feeling more tired than usual and more often
Constipation or menstrual changes
Menstrual changes

  • Changes to your monthly menstrual cycle including additional bleeding or vaginal discharge
Upset stomach or hearburn
Upset stomach, heartburn, or constipation

  • This may include diarrhea or changes in bowel habits such as urgency or pain

What if ovarian cancer symptoms persist?

It is important to pay attention to your body and know what is normal for you. If symptoms do not go away within two weeks following normal interventions such as laxatives, rest, or changing diet and exercise, contact a physician immediately. There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer. That is why it is important to know the signs and symptoms and report them to your doctor.

Ovarian Cancer Symptom Diary

Ovarian Cancer Symptom Diary

Use our Ovarian Cancer Symptom Diary to track your symptoms over a two-week timespan.

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Ovarian Cancer Symptom Social Graphic

Raise Ovarian Cancer Awareness

Help us raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer by downloading and sharing this graphic on social media using #knowovarian.

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Related Topics

Diagnosis

Get information about the tests that are available for making a diagnosis when ovarian cancer is suspected. 

Types and stages

Learn about the different types of ovarian cancer, and how the stage, or the degree that the disease has spread, is determined.

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Treatment options

Learn about your treatment options and how to manage possible side effects.

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