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Symptoms - Ovarian cancer

Main symptoms of ovarian cancer

Symptoms of ovarian cancer include frequently (roughly 12 or more times a month) having:

  • a swollen tummy or feeling bloated
  • pain or tenderness in your tummy or the area between the hips (pelvis)
  • no appetite or feeling full quickly after eating
  • an urgent need to pee or needing to pee more often

Other symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:

  • indigestion
  • constipation or diarrhoea
  • back pain
  • feeling tired all the time
  • losing weight without trying
  • bleeding from the vagina after the menopause

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • you have any symptoms of ovarian cancer


These symptoms are very common and can be caused by many different conditions.

But it's still important to get them checked by a GP. This is because if they're caused by cancer, finding it early can mean it's more treatable.

What happens at the GP appointment

You will be asked about your health and symptoms. Tell the GP if anyone in your family has or had ovarian or breast cancer.

The GP or practice nurse may ask to examine you. You can ask for a female doctor or nurse when you book your appointment.

You'll be asked to undress from the waist down, behind a screen. You'll be given a sheet to put over you.

The examination may involve:

  • gently putting a smooth, tube-shaped tool (a speculum) into your vagina so they can see inside this area
  • pressing on your tummy and inside your vagina, to check for lumps or tender or sore areas

It should not be painful, but you may find it uncomfortable. Talk to the GP or nurse if you are feeling uncomfortable.

You can have a friend, family member or other member of staff in the room with you during your exam if you want.


You are in control and can ask the doctor to stop at any time.

Referral to a specialist

The GP or practice nurse may refer you for more tests or to see a specialist in hospital if they think you have a condition that needs to be investigated.

This may be an urgent referral, usually within 2 weeks, if you have certain symptoms. This does not definitely mean you have cancer.

Page last reviewed: 24 January 2022
Next review due: 24 January 2025