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St. Petersburg General Hospital
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Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer may cause only mild or nonspecific (abdominal distress or fullness, back pain, or increasing girth) symptoms until the later stages. Most of the symptoms result from a large tumor in the pelvis. The majority of women will have stage III or greater ovarian cancer at the time of diagnosis. Because of this, it is essential that women of all ages know what to look for so that early problems result in earlier diagnosis, treatment, and better cure rates. It is also important to have regular pelvic exams because they may provide an early diagnosis even in the absence of any significant symptoms.

Ovarian Cancer
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Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal discomfort and/or pain
  • Gas, indigestion, pressure, swelling, bloating, or cramps
  • Nausea, diarrhea, constipation, or frequent urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling of fullness even after only a light meal
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Abnormal bleeding from the vagina

Note: These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you have persistent symptoms, see your doctor.

Revision Information

  • Kasper DL, Harrison TR. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 14th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 1998.

  • Ovarian cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003130-pdf.pdf. Accessed January 3, 2014.

  • Ovarian cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 2013. Accessed January 3, 2014.

  • Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/types/ovarian/patient/ovarian-epithelial-treatment-pdq#section/%5F156. Accessed January 3, 2014.