Symptoms usually do not appear until ovarian cancer is in advanced stages. If you experience any symptoms, do not assume it is due to cancer. Many symptoms can be caused by other, less serious conditions. However, it is still important to discuss them with your doctor. Early detection and treatment improve outcomes for both cancer and other health conditions.
Symptoms for ovarian cancer are vague and in common with many noncancerous conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Over time, symptoms may become more frequent or persistent. The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are:
- Abdominal discomfort and/or pain
- Gas, indigestion, pressure, swelling, bloating, or cramps
- Nausea, diarrhea, constipation, or frequent or urgent urination
- Feeling of fullness even after only a light meal
- Abnormal bleeding from the vagina
- Loss of appetite, which can lead to unintended weight loss
- Increase in abdominal girth from fluid build-up— ascites
- Pain or sensation of a mass in the abdomen or lymph nodes near the collarbone, under the arm, or groin
- Difficulty breathing from fluid build-up in the lungs
General information about ovarian epithelial, fallopian tube, and primary peritoneal cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/ovarian/patient/ovarian-epithelial-treatment-pdq. Updated October 13, 2017. Accessed January 29, 2018.
Ovarian cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900705/Ovarian-cancer. Updated November 17, 2017. Accessed January 29, 2018.
Ovarian cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/gynecologic-tumors/ovarian-cancer. Updated March 2017. Accessed January 29, 2018.
Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/ovarian-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-and-symptoms.html. Updated February 4, 2016. Accessed January 29, 2018.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP Last Updated: 11/4/2016