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Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

Spotting the symptoms

Speed of diagnosis is the single biggest factor in securing a positive outcome to an ovarian cancer diagnosis. Symptoms are often dismissed both by the individual and their GP, which means all too often diagnosis comes late – sometimes too late.

Can you help us spread the word? Knowing the symptoms to look out for and spreading the word could save your life, or the life of someone you love.

Spotting the Symptoms: Quick Guide

Weeing more often illustrationWeeing more often

Overly bloated feeling illustrationOverly bloated feeling

Reduced appetite illustrationReduced appetite

Dull ache or pain in the pelvis or tummy illustrationDull ache or pain in the pelvis or tummy

*** See your GP immediately ***

Other Watchouts

Upset tummy?
Feeling really tired?
Losing weight?
Bleeding after menopause?

Many of the early symptoms of ovarian cancer are easy to ignore, because they can be quite mild. This is the danger with this disease. It starts quietly and very often people are unaware that there is a problem until it is too late. The key is to recognise the warning signs and to take action quickly.

Make an appointment to see your GP if you notice any of the following symptoms 12 times or more in a month. Or put another way, 2 or 3 times a week or once every couple of days.

  • Feeling that your tummy is bloated and swollen all the time
  • Feeling full quickly or having a reduced appetite
  • Pain or discomfort in the tummy or lower down in the pelvis
  • Change in toilet habits
  • Needing to pass urine more often or more urgently
  • Diarrhoea or constipation that is new to you

There are also some other symptoms which may be experienced by some people, such as pain during sex, weight gain or weight loss or extreme and unexplained tiredness.


  • Don’t assume your symptoms are all due to the menopause.
  • Don’t assume your symptoms are due to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, especially if you are over 50 years old. It is very unusual for IBS to appear for the first time if you are over 50.
  • Don’t assume your smear test will detect ovarian cancer – it will not. It will only find changes in the neck of your womb.
  • Don’t put off seeing the GP because you are too busy and you don’t think you are poorly enough to justify an appointment.
  • Listen to your body – you will know when something just doesn’t feel right – see your GP if you have any doubts at all.

For more information please check out The Every Woman Study by The World Ovarian Cancer Coalition where they have been addressing the evidence gap relating to the experiences of people with ovarian cancer around the world.

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