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10 Symptoms Women Shouldn’t Ignore

Pay attention to these subtle symptoms that may indicate you have ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer has been referred to as the “disease that whispers” because early stages of the disease often cause subtle symptoms that are easily attributable to other conditions. Typically, most symptoms associated with the disease don’t raise a red flag until the cancer reaches more advanced stages. 

When caught in its earliest stages, approximately 94% of people diagnosed with ovarian cancer live 5 years or more.  But only about 20% of ovarian cancer is found early, according to the American Cancer Society.  If ovarian cancer is not detected until it is more advanced (stage III or higher), the survival rate can be as low as 28%. The sooner ovarian cancer is diagnosed, the better a woman’s chance for survival.

It’s important to listen to your body and pay attention to any symptoms you may have. Although many symptoms of ovarian cancer can occur due to other reasons, don’t ignore these symptoms when they are persistent, happen frequently or worsen because they can be a sign of ovarian cancer:

  1. Bloating or abdominal swelling

  2. Abdominal pain or discomfort

  3. Pelvic pain or pressure

  4. Feeling full quickly after eating

  5. Urinary urgency or frequency

  6. Back pain

  7. Painful sex

  8. Constipation, diarrhea, nausea, or fatigue

  9. Changes in menstruation

  10. Unexplained weight loss

You don’t need to run to the doctor if you wake up bloated one day or find yourself down a few pounds on the scale when you weren’t trying. Many of these symptoms are likely caused by other factors. But if you notice your symptoms don’t go away or increase in severity, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.

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Date Last Reviewed: June 21, 2022

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD