Ovarian cancer - Symptoms 

Symptoms of ovarian cancer 

The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognise, particularly in early stages of the disease.

This is because they are often the same as symptoms of other less serious conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS).

However, three main symptoms are more frequent in women diagnosed with ovarian cancer:

  • increased abdominal size and persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)
  • persistent pelvic and abdominal pain
  • difficulty eating and feeling full quickly, or feeling nauseous

Other symptoms, such as back pain and needing to pass urine more urgently and frequently than normal, may be the result of other conditions in the pelvic area. They are probably not ovarian cancer, but may be present in some women with the disease.

If you have any of these symptoms, keep a symptom diary to see how many of these symptoms you have over a longer period. Bear in mind ovarian cancer is rare in women under 40 years old. If you regularly have any of these symptoms, talk to your GP. It's unlikely they are being caused by a serious problem, but it's best to be checked.

If you've already seen your GP and the symptoms continue or get worse, it is important to go back and explain this, as you know your body better than anyone.

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Page last reviewed: 01/11/2012

Next review due: 01/11/2014


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The 5 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

olive123 said on 24 February 2014

nurse0710 this happend to me! I was on the implant for 2 years and started to get ovarian cysts and then found out I was pregnant! Make sure you take pregnancy tests as a precaution! I suffered from back pain, extreme fatigue and terrible pain in my lower abdomen!

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nurse0710 said on 11 November 2013

Hi guys. I have a contraceptive implant in place. Its still. Year to be changed. For the past 8 weeks I have been bleeding constantly & heavily. I have lower right sided abdo and back area. Fatigue and lack of energy. Also have hardly eaten these past 2 months.i also have dry mouth. Only other relevant info is a history of pelvic inflammatory disease, there was no infection with this diagnosis and no bleeding. Any ideas?

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JessicaT1234 said on 24 October 2013

I have a friend who has Ovarian Cancer. And she is so ill all of the time because the fluid builds up- and the fluid is in such an awkward place to get at- so it can not all be removed as it could damage her internal organs... She is on anti- sickness medication but it does not work. She has been in and out of hospital. She has had cancer now for over a year. She has had Chemo before, but the cancer came back- she is too unwell to get her latest Chemo [ what do you think they can do for her as she is getting no relief or ease from this fluid- it is not pain she is in just terrible sickness, and she can't eat/keep anything down] - she is suffering all of the time. x

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Cindersw said on 28 May 2013

Get a second opinion, my niece was 3 and GP told my sister for 6 months it was ibs and she wasn't getting enough roughage in her diet. At 3 1/2 she was diagnosed with ov and had her overarching taken out, cancer was 9 inches in diameter. Also my daughters boy friends previous girl friend was 16 when she was diagnosed. Cancer is selective on age, gender, colour or class. Keep going until you have a diagnosis you are happy with and get treatment that helps you. Good luck xx

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Lou_lou84 said on 15 May 2013

Can anyone offer any advise i have done just as it says about going to the GP and have got no where i am only 28 but with having all the symptoms plus 2 ultra sounds that have shown a cyst/mass on my right ovary they have ignored it and said the symptoms i have which are all listed above and now a 5cm cyst/mass are not connected but havent actually done any test to show there not related they didnt actually inform me of the ovarian cyst/mass after the first ultra sound as it is nothing to do with there department (digestive problems) if i can enter the symptoms on the internet and come up with this page surely doctors should be more aware? I know its rare in under 40's but i have a lot of health problems that shouldnt affect anyone under 40!!!

if anyone can offer any advise i would be grateful.

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