Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
If you experience any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to cancer. Most of these symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your physician.
Ovarian cancer generally does not cause symptoms until it has spread. Most of the symptoms are due to tumor masses inside the pelvis or abdomen.
Abdominal discomfort, pressure, and/or pain – There are many ways tumors growing inside your abdomen and pelvis can cause symptoms. Most commonly they will irritate nerves they are pressing on or growing around. Sometimes their sheer bulk will cause discomfort.
Swelling – A distinctive feature of advanced ovarian cancer may be a large accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, causing substantial discomfort.
Digestive discomfort – Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, gas, indigestion, bloating, cramps, and loss of appetite can occur when tumors affect the stomach and intestines.
Frequent urination – When the bladder is involved, frequency of urination is the common result.
Feeling of fullness – Most of the above symptoms may, in their early stages, produce a vague fullness, even before a meal.
Unexplained weight gain or loss – A common symptom of cancers of any kind is weight loss. Weight gain is generally due to fluid retention, in this case, in the abdomen and pelvis.
Abnormal bleeding from the vagina – Vaginal bleeding is rare in ovarian cancer. If it were more common, early diagnosis would be more likely. Nevertheless, this is a common symptom of other female cancers and demands an investigation.
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine , 14th ed. McGraw-Hill, 1998.
National Cancer Institute Web site.
Available at http://www.nci.nih.gov/cancer_information
Accessed: November 29, 2002
Last reviewed February 2003 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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