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 sufferer and their GP which means all too often the diagnosis comes late. Sometimes too late.

Spotting the Symptoms: Quick Guide

Illustration showing a woman feeling bloated


If you feel persistently bloated and the feeling doesn’t go away.

Illustration showing a woman experiencing tummy pain


If you start experiencing pain in your pelvis or your tummy.

Illustration showing a woman feeling more full than usual


If you feel full more quickly than usual or lose your appetite.

Illustration showing a woman needing to wee more often than usual


If you start needing to wee more often or more urgently than usual.

*** 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 women 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 women, 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 woman with ovarian cancer around the world.

© Dianne Oxberry Trust 2021
Registered with Charities Commission: 1182127

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