Ovarian Cancer Home > Early Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Healthcare providers used to believe that there were no ovarian cancer warning signs. However, research has shown that early indications of the disease are present more often than was thought. Possible early symptoms of ovarian cancer include stomach pain, bloating, and an abnormal change in bladder habits. While in most cases, other conditions are responsible for these symptoms, you should still see your gynecologist.

Understanding Early Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer has historically been referred to as a "silent" disease. This is because it was thought that most women with ovarian cancer had no early symptoms. It was not until the later stages of the disease that symptoms became noticeable.
However, several ovarian cancer research studies have recently been published showing that there may, in fact, be warning signs for ovarian cancer. And these early symptoms are actually present more often than previously thought.
This latest research has prompted several leading cancer organizations to release an ovarian cancer symptoms consensus statement on the possible early warning signs for the disease.
These possible early ovarian cancer symptoms include:
  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal (stomach) pain
  • A change in bladder habits, such as urgent or frequent feelings of needing to go (urinary incontinence)
  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly.
Research has shown that these symptoms are more likely to occur in women with ovarian cancer than in the general population. Women who have had these symptoms and were eventually diagnosed with ovarian cancer reported their symptoms as continual and as a change from normal for them.

What to Do If You Notice Possible Ovarian Cancer Warning Signs

Many women may ignore these early symptoms because they are commonly seen with other conditions, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI). Some signs may also be viewed as part of the normal aging process. Healthcare providers, however, recommend that any woman who has had these potential early signs or symptoms of ovarian cancer for more than a couple of weeks should visit their healthcare provider, preferably their gynecologist. He or she will be able to properly diagnose and treat the problem.
Keep in mind that, in many cases, problems in the ovaries are not actually due to cancer but to other, less serious health problems. But it is better to be safe.
(Click Ovarian Cancer Symptoms to learn about symptoms that can occur in later stages of the disease.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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