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Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

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
  • Fatigue
  • 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: Updated November 3, 2016. Accessed November 4, 2016.
Ovarian cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at:
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Accessed November 4, 2016.
Ovarian cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated November 2, 2016. Accessed November 4, 2016.
Ovarian cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
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Updated May 2013. Accessed November 4, 2016.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
Last Updated: 11/4/2016


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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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