Sep 20, 2021 9:00 AM

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photo of Theresa Werner, MD
Theresa Werner, MD

Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest women’s cancers, even though it is not one of the most common. Only 16% of ovarian cancer cases are found in the early stages. Ovarian cancer is hard to detect early. The symptoms are vague, and there is no effective screening to find ovarian cancer early.

The ovaries are in the pelvis near the intestines and bladder. That means ovarian cancer symptoms can appear to be common stomach or bladder problems. Bloating, fatigue, and back pain seem like everyday annoyances, not signs of cancer.

“Many patients attribute these symptoms to growing older or going through menopause and don’t seek medical attention early on,” says Theresa Werner, MD, an oncologist at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). “If you experience any of these symptoms, and if they persist or get worse over time, call your doctor.”

Possible Signs of Ovarian Cancer

  1. An upset stomach. Ovarian cancer can cause gastrointestinal symptoms, including bloating, constipation, cramps, and abdominal pain.
  2. Constant fatigue that interferes with your daily life.
  3. Changes in bathroom habits, including a need to urinate more urgently or often, or changes in bowel habits and stool consistency.
  4. Weight gain or weight loss, without making changes to diet or exercise.
  5. A poor appetite or a feeling of fullness after even a light meal.
  6. Pain or a feeling of pressure in the pelvic area or lower back.
  7. Vaginal discomfort, including pain during intercourse.
  8. Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge.

If you have questions about ovarian cancer symptoms or any other cancer topic, contact HCI’s Cancer Learning Center:

ovarian cancer gynecologic cancer health education

Cancer touches all of us.

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