What Are the Early Warning Signs of Ovarian Cancer?

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

Please give information on the symptoms and early warning signs of ovarian cancer.

Doctor's response

Ovarian cancer is unfortunately one of the cancers that does not have early warning signs or symptoms. There are currently very few ways to detect the disease in its early stages.

The blood test CA-125 is used to try to help determine if the cancer is present, however there are many false positive results and many false negative results. It appears that in order to have the CA-125 test be positive, there has to be sufficient tumor mass present and this amount is generally greater than we would like to have for early detection. Even the use of CT scan, ultrasound, or pelvic exam is usually not sufficient to detect the presence of early ovarian cancer.

When ovarian cancer produces symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, increase in waist line, it is because there is significant tumor present to create symptoms.

Better methods to detect ovarian cancer in its earliest stages will come with further medical research.

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Reviewed on 1/11/2018