Search Our Site:  
Share this article:   Bookmark and Share
Custom Search

Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is a cancerous growth that grows on an ovary.  Tumors on the ovary can be benign or malignant; most ovarian tumors are benign. Benign tumors are not cancer and they do not spread or invade surrounding tissue. Malignant tumors are cancerous, and they may be life-threatening. In most cases, the cause of ovarian cancer remains unknown. We have listed the common signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer below.

Also, we have information on diagnosis, helpful books and valuable resources for patients.

The Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer:

The signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer are often very subtle in the early stages of the  disease, and may include the following:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal pressure
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Pelvic pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Urinary frequency
  • Constipation
  • Intestinal gas
  • Nausea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Feeling full quickly after eating
  • Clothes feeling tight around the waist
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent lack of energy
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding, including heavy periods and bleeding after menopause
  • Shortness of breath

These signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer are not specific to the disease, and they mimic many other conditions, including bladder and digestive problems. The signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer tend to persist and get worse over time. In many cases, the symptoms persist for several months before they are recognized and diagnosed.

The signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer frequently go unrecognized until the cancer has spread within the pelvis and abdomen. At this later stage, it is often difficult to treat ovarian cancer, and the condition is often fatal.

Risk factors for ovarian cancer include family history of ovarian cancer, inherited gene mutations, a previous cancer diagnosis, being over age 55, never having been pregnant, and possibly using hormone replacement therapy after menopause.

Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer

A diagnosis of ovarian cancer starts with a physical exam and may include a blood test for a substance called CA-125, which is a substance found on the surface of ovarian cancer cells. This blood test alone is not a useful indicator of early-stage ovarian cancer due to its low level of sensitivity and specificity. Thus, other tests, such as a transvaginal ultrasound, are needed. A biopsy obtained during surgery is the only definitive way to diagnose ovarian cancer, and to know if an ovarian cyst is malignant or benign.

Books For Women With Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

A Guide to Survivorship for Women with Ovarian Cancer (A Johns Hopkins Press Health Book)
Fredrick J. Montz

Positive Results: Making the Best Decisions When You’re at High Risk for Breast or Ovarian Cancer
Joi L. Morris

A Feather in My Wig: Ovarian Cancer Cured, Twelve ( Seventeen) Years and Going Strong!
Barbara R. Van Billiard

Beating Ovarian Cancer: How To Overcome The Odds And Reclaim Your Life
Chris Bledy

Ovarian Cancer Resources

General Patient Resources

  • National Cancer Institute

Information about ovarian cancer treatment, prevention, genetics, causes, screening, clinical trials, research and statistics from the National Cancer Institute.

  • American Cancer Society

If you (or a loved one) are worried about developing ovarian cancer, have just been diagnosed, are going through treatment, or are trying to stay well after treatment, the Detailed Guide and Overview can help you find the answers you need.

  • National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

Our mission is to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and provide information on symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and support through national programs and local chapters.

  • Ovarian Cancer National Alliance

Leading the national initiative to significantly reduce the number of deaths from ovarian cancer and ultimately conquer the disease.

  • Medicine . Net

Get information on ovarian cancer symptoms, signs, prognosis, staging, treatment, diagnosis, screening tests, research and risk factors.

  • Women’s Cancer Information Center

Information on ovarian cancers, they types, how it spreads, causes, risk factors, screening, common signs and symptoms, diagnosis, staging, and treatment overview.

  • Ovarian Cancer Forum

Ovarian Cancer Forum is a place for people to share information about Ovarian Cancer.

  • Cancer Compass

Share stories at our ovarian cancer forum to discuss treatment methods, cancer research, dealing with side effects, and more, only at,0,119,38,26.htm

  • Med Help

Our Ask A Doctor Ovarian Cancer Forum is where you can post your question and receive a personal answer from Dr. Annekathryn Goodman from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, Massachusetts.

Medical Resources

  • Mayo Clinic

Comprehensive overview covers ovarian cancer symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and future treatments.

  • Web MD

Find in-depth ovarian cancer information here including its diagnosis, symptoms, and more.

  • Medline Plus

A service of the US National Library of Medicine.