Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

The symptoms of early ovarian cancer are often vague and unrelated to the pelvis. More severe symptoms generally occur once the disease has spread leading to a delay in diagnosis until more advanced stages. For this reason, ovarian cancer has been known as a ‘silent killer’.

Several recent studies have shown that most women do have pelvic or abdominal symptoms prior to a diagnosis. The most common symptoms are:

  • abdominal bloating
  • urinary urgency or frequency
  • difficulty eating or feeling full
  • abdominal pain or discomfort
  • constipation

These symptoms tend to be more severe, occur as multiple symptoms, and occur more frequently in women with ovarian cancer than in women without. This pattern has led some researchers to believe that early recognition of symptoms can help diagnose women at earlier stages when the disease is still confined to the ovary and potentially more curable.

As ovarian cancer progresses, symptoms tend to become more severe.  Advanced disease can be associated with symptoms such as:

  • abdominal distention
  • nausea
  • severe abdominal or pelvic pain
  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty breathing