Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Despite an increased awareness of ovarian cancer in the news and other media, the ability to detect this disease is poor, and many women are not diagnosed until the disease is advanced. Ovarian cancer ordinarily produces no distinctive symptoms, and most tumors metastasize, or spread, to other abdominal organs before being diagnosed.

Metastasis can give rise to ascites, a build-up of fluid in the abdomen that usually causes abdominal swelling. Such swelling may be the only indication that something is wrong, and it is the most common reason most patient visit their doctor.

Other vague, but sometimes lingering symptoms of ovarian cancer include the following:

  • Abdominal/pelvic discomfort or pressure
  • Back or leg pain
  • Bloating
  • Changes in bowel function or urinary frequency
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., gas, long-term stomach pain, indigestion)
  • Malnourished or wasted appearance
  • Nausea or loss of appetite
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 15 Aug 1999

Last Modified: 02 Dec 2011