Ovarian Cancer: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 7/2/2018

Ovarian cancer may not cause any specific signs or symptoms, particularly in its early stages. When it does cause symptoms, these may be nonspecific and vague. Symptoms and signs can include

  • abdominal enlargement or swelling due to the presence of tumor or fluid in the abdomen,
  • abdominal fullness,
  • early satiety (feeling full early),
  • changes in bowel or bladder habits, or
  • clothes not fitting well.

Other signs and symptoms can include

Fatigue may be present, but it is considered another nonspecific symptom.

Because the symptoms of ovarian cancer can be very subtle or vague, affected women may not be diagnosed immediately because the condition is not suspected at first. When ovarian cancers are very large, they are more likely to cause symptoms related to obstruction or pressure on other organs.

Causes of ovarian cancer

The cause of ovarian cancer is not well understood. Both genetics and environmental factors may play a role. Some ovarian cancers arise in women with inherited genetic mutations.

Related Symptoms & Signs


"Ovarian Cancer." American Cancer Society. <http://www.cancer.org/cancer/ovariancancer/index>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/2/2018
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