What are the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer

6 answers | Last updated: Nov 07, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

What are the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer?

Expert Answers

Senior Editor Melanie Haiken, who is responsible for Caring.com's coverage of cancer, general health, and family finance, discovered how important it is to provide accurate, targeted, usable health information to people facing difficult decisions.

The problem with ovarian cancer is that many of the symptoms are easily confused with digestive disorders and bladder problems, so the cancer goes unrecognized until it's advanced. But in retrospect, many women with ovarian cancer realize they were experiencing unexplained symptoms for months, even years, before their cancer was diagnosed. Recently, researchers found that ovarian cancer could be detected using a blood test in combination with a simple screening. Women should check with their doctors if they notice one or more of these symptoms:

  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Increased abdomen size or bloating
  • Feeling constantly full or having difficulty eating

Of course, these symptoms are common to many conditions. But if the symptom is new, and persists over time, talk to your doctor.

Other signs reported by ovarian cancer patients:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • An urgent need to urinate
  • Urinary burning or discharge
  • Indigestion or nausea that persists over a long period of time
  • Frequent episodes of gas
  • Unexplained constipation
  • Unexplained increase in waist size "“ i.e. you can't zip up your jeans
  • Pain during sex
  • Lower back pain
  • Menstrual changes such as more pain during periods or heavier bleeding
  • Lack of energy

Those with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer should be even more vigilant; talk to your doctor about genetic screening and be alert to any new symptoms in the pelvic area.

Community Answers

Judith j. tripp answered...

I was unable to swallow anything, had lost 20 pounds and looked 8 months pregnant. After several visits to the clinic and the lasdt doctor told me that if I "can't swallow food then stay on a liquid diet and come back in a week". We packed up our home for winter and a week later I was at the emergency room totally unable to swallow even water. The diagnosis was ovarian cancer stage 3C. That was 11 months ago and I am starting another type of chemo this week. My CA125 was 640 at that time. Then it went down to 22 and now is up to 87. The truth! What are my chances. I'm 71.

Moms girls answered...

My Mom was diagnosed almost 2 years ago with stage 4 ovarian cancer. (To our shock and disbelief). We (the family) thought that she had pnemonia. She was constantly weak, tired and had shortness of breath (so bad that she couldn't walk from her kitchen sink to the table without struggling). Her stomache was bloated like described above, but we thought nothing of if. When the test came back that she had the big "C" it wasa complete shock. We don't have Cancer in the family and my Mom was 73 at the time. She had a hysterectomy a few years back but the doctor didn't take her ovaries because he thought that there was no need to do a more complicated surgery (cutting her instead of taking the easy route and doing the hysterectomy vaginally). The cancer caused a lot of fluid to build up around her lungs (this is what caused the breathing problems).

That was it for her symptoms, I guess this is why they call it the silent killer. Thank God, and I stress THANK GOD, my Mom is doing good and she is proving the first doctor wrong who told us that she only had a few months to live. I'm not saying that it has been an easy two years (a lot of ups and downs) but we have been blessed with my Mom's recovery. I stress to everyone....Faith, prayers, positivity and strong family/friend support is most crucial to anyone with cancer.

Love and prayers to everyone struggling with this. Kathy M

Buckspc answered...

spouse was diagnosed with stage 3c endometrial cancer march 11th 2010, after surgery and radiation and 4 chemo treatments she was told she is in remission. Last chemo treatment was 5 months ago, Nov. 23th. Now she has lots of stomach cramping and sometimes diarrea about once a month. Lots of gas most of the time. Could this still be the aftereffects of treatment or has the cancer come back? She was supposed to have 6 chemos but we had to stop after 4 as she could not tolorate anymore, was in the hospital from the 4th one so we decided to stop. Dr agreed with us.

Emily m. answered...

Hi buckspc: Thank you very much for your question. Unfortunately, we are unable to diagnose medical problems for our site members. We suggest that you contact your spouses doctor right away regarding her medical issue. We hope our informational site will be of help for you in the future.

Sincerely, Emily The Caring.com Ask & Answer Team

Thebbmurpjy answered...

Reading these posts just amazes me about how some people wait to visit a doctor,but then with some the doctor is too much of an idiot to realize that MAYBE something serious is going on. The bottom line is you have to be your own advocate for your health.Don't wait.For over a year now I have had so many health issues,and I am fed up,but fortunately I am not dealing with ovarian cancer.Life is to short,if you are not happy with a diagnosis from a doctor,and you are still having the symptoms see another if possible,but please don't ignore the symptoms.