What Are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?

Your ovaries are small -- each about the size of an almond -- and deep within your abdominal cavity. In its early stages, ovarian cancer may not cause symptoms you would notice. Even as the disease advances, the signs can be unclear. You might confuse them with other common problems, such as constipation.

For many years, ovarian cancer was known as a “silent” disease. If you know the symptoms, your doctor will have a better chance of finding it early.

4 Key Signs

Research has found that there are four main symptoms of ovarian cancer. You might experience them even in early stages of the disease. They are:

  • Bloating
  • Pain in your pelvis or belly
  • Trouble eating or quickly feeling that you are full
  • Always feeling like you need to pee (urgency) or feeling like you need to pee often (frequency)

Many things other than ovarian cancer can cause these symptoms. You need to look at whether these symptoms are unusual for you, and whether they are happening more often or seem worse.

Other Symptoms

Other symptoms that could mean you have ovarian cancer include:

Keep this in mind: Even though these symptoms can be signs of ovarian cancer, it’s more likely they are caused by something else.

When to Call the Doctor

Because the symptoms linked to ovarian cancer are common and somewhat vague, it’s hard to know when to call the doctor. You should get checked if the symptoms:

  • Are new to you
  • Happen more than 12 times in a month
  • Don’t go away when you make normal changes such as exercise, diet, laxatives or more rest

Tell your doctor if either ovarian cancer or breast cancer runs in your family.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Trina Pagano, MD on March 26, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition: “What are the Signs & Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?”

Mayo Clinic: “Diseases and Conditions -- Ovarian cancer.”

Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance: “Symptoms and Detection.”

American Cancer Society: “Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer.”

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