What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?
Common symptoms include
• Increase in tummy size
•Needing to pee more often or urgently
But any of the symptoms below could be an indication of ovarian cancer if they are frequent, worsening, or unusual and last longer than two weeks.
• Feeling full after eating only a few bites or loss of appetite
• Diarrhoea, constipation, bowel or rectum feels full, change in bowel habits, constant urge to have a bowel movement, painful or burning bowel movements, rectal pain, painful defecation
• Bloating, distension of abdomen, clothes around the waist feel too tight, feel an abdominal mass
• Weight loss not because of dieting
• Nausea, vomiting, heartburn, gas, burping, indigestion
• Increased urinary frequency, need to urinate urgently, pressure on the bladder, leaking urine, burning sensation when urinating, need to urinate but unable to do so, unable to empty bladder completely, feeling full after urinating
• Vaginal discharge, bleeding, spotting, deep pain on intercourse
• Discomfort or pain in abdomen, pelvic region, or lower back
Symptoms can be vague and variable
Did you know?
5thMost common cause of cancer deaths in women
8 in 10 women
Have symptoms when their cancer is early
4 in 5
Will be misdiagnosed
1 in 4
Wait over 6 months to get a correct diagnosis
Should you be tested?
A cervical smear does not test for ovarian cancer.
It is important to remember most women with symptoms do not have ovarian cancer but if testing does find cancer, early detection will make it easier to treat.
HNPCC (Lynch Syndrome) and the BRCA1/2 mutations are associated with up to a 66% lifetime risk of ovarian cancer. Women with a family history of ovarian, breast, pancreatic or colorectal cancer should talk to their doctor. Hereditary ovarian cancer may be preventable.
9 out of 10 women with ovarian cancer have NO family historyFactors that can mildly alter risk:
- Oral contraceptive use
- Healthy weight
- Giving birth
- Older age (but some types of ovarian cancer are more common in younger women)
Regardless of risk factors, any woman with symptoms could have ovarian cancer.
For more information:
** as per the Detecting Ovarian Cancer Early (DOvE) study
If your symptoms do not resolve, and your tests are negative for ovarian cancer, speak to your doctor. Other cancers with overlapping symptoms include endometrial cancer, bowel cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer, stomach cancer and bladder cancer.