Ovarian Cancer: Symptoms

Recent studies1 have shown that the following symptoms are much more likely to occur in women with ovarian cancer than women in the general population:

  • bloating
  • pelvic or abdominal pain
  • difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)

For women with ovarian cancer, these symptoms are persistent and represent a change from normal for their bodies. The frequency and/or number of symptoms are a key factor in diagnosing ovarian cancer. Women who have any of these symptoms almost daily for more than two to three weeks should see their doctor.

Studies have shown that even early-stage ovarian cancer can produce these symptoms. Prompt medical evaluation of these symptoms may lead to detection of ovarian cancer at the earliest possible stage. Detection of ovarian cancer at an early stage is associated with an improved outcome.

1B. A. Goff, L. S. Mandel, C. W. Drescher, N. Urban, S. Gough, K. M. Schurman, J. Patras, B. S. Mahony, and M. R. Andersen, “Development of an ovarian cancer symptom index: possibilities for earlier detection,” Cancer 109(2), 2007: 221-7. [PubMed Abstract]