Ovarian Cancer Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer usually don’t appear until it has progressed to an advanced ovarian cancer.

Early signs of ovarian cancer can be hard to spot. When ovarian cancer warning signs do appear, they’re often the same symptoms as common stomach and digestive illnesses. This means most women don’t immediately think to call their gynecologist for an exam. Unfortunately, the later ovarian cancer is found, the more difficult it is to treat. This is why it’s good for patients to be as educated as possible regarding detecting ovarian cancer early when it is more likely to be treated successfully. 

Signs, symptoms ovarian cancer:

  • Abdominal (belly) bloating 
  • Changes in appetite, such as a loss of appetite or feelings of fullness 
  • Pain or discomfort (such as pressure) in the abdomen or pelvis 
  • A more urgent or frequent need to urinate
  • Changes in bowel movements 
  • Changes in menstruation 

Symptoms of advanced ovarian cancer may include intense pelvic or abdominal pain, bowel blockage, bladder blockage, weight loss, and ascites (a buildup of fluid in your abdomen).

When symptoms are caused by ovarian cancer rather than another condition, they tend to be more persistent and a noticeable change from occasional digestive issues. If you notice any signs for more than a few weeks, visit your gynecologist for a pelvic exam.

Some other symptoms that can be attributed to ovarian cysts, masses, or tumors can include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pelvic or back pain
  • Fatigue
  • Pain while having sex
  • Constipation
  • Swelling, pressure, or pain in the abdomen

While these symptoms can certainly be caused by conditions other than ovarian cancer, it is important that they aren’t ignored. Remember, early detection is key for overcoming ovarian cancer. If you experience one or more of these symptoms for a significant period, Minnesota Oncology urges you to seek medical attention so a proper diagnosis can be made and treatment can be started, if necessary.