If you've been feeling bloated most days for the last 3 weeks, tell your doctor.

Dr Alison Wint

If you've been feeling bloated most days for the last three weeks, tell your doctor. Chances are it's nothing serious, but you're not wasting anyone's time by getting it checked out. Call your GP today.

What could it be?

Some symptoms may be caused by other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), which may still need treatment. But don't try to diagnose yourself. Go and see your doctor now to find out for sure.

Could it be cancer?

Feeling bloated most days for three weeks or more can be a sign of ovarian cancer, which is why it's so important to see your doctor straight away. Early detection makes it easier to treat. Seeing your doctor could save your life.

My advice to anyone with persistent bloating is to take yourself straight to the doctor.

Lou Pescod, aged 65

Are there other symptoms of ovarian cancer?

Feeling bloated most days for three weeks or more is a common sign of ovarian cancer, but other symptoms include:

  • feeling full quickly or loss of appetite
  • pelvic or stomach pain
  • needing to pee urgently or more frequently than normal
  • changes in bowel habit
  • extreme fatigue (feeling very tired)
  • unexplained weight loss

If you have any of these symptoms, see your GP as soon as possible. If you know anyone who has any of these symptoms, insist they see their doctor.

What will happen at my GP appointment?

You're not wasting anyone's time by getting your symptoms checked out, and your mind will be put at rest if it's not serious. 

At your appointment, your GP will gently feel your tummy (abdomen) and ask you about your symptoms, general health and whether there's a history of ovarian or breast cancer in your family.

They may carry out an internal examination and may take a blood sample or refer you for an ultrasound scan. You may also be referred to a specialist (a gynaecologist or gynaecological oncologist) at a hospital if further examinations and tests are needed.


Hear from our GPs

Find out what to expect when you see your doctor – watch the video.

About ovarian cancer

There are over 6,000 new cases of ovarian cancer in England each year. It causes more than 3,500 deaths in England annually, but this needn't be the case. Knowing what symptoms to look out for can save lives.

Most cases of ovarian cancer occur after the menopause. If you have two or more close relatives, on either your father’s or your mother’s side, who developed ovarian cancer or breast cancer, you may be at higher risk of developing the condition.

Reduce your risk

A healthy lifestyle can help you reduce your risk of ovarian cancer. Some ways to stay healthy are:

  • stop smoking – if you smoke, the best thing you can do for your health is to quit. There's plenty of support available from the NHS. Visit nhs.uk/smokefree or call 0300 123 1044.
  • look after yourself – try to maintain a healthy weight and keep active. Swimming, cycling, dancing, walking – the more you can do, the better. Try to eat a healthy, balanced diet too, with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
  • cut down on alcohol – drinking too much alcohol can lead to a number of health problems. By drinking less, you'll reduce your health risks.

For more information on how to reduce your risk of cancer, visit nhs.uk/reduce-your-risk.

Content last reviewed: June 2016

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