Ovarian cancer symptoms

Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer and primary peritoneal cancer are often similar to other conditions. Find out when your GP should offer you cancer tests.

About signs and symptoms of cancer of the ovary, fallopian tube or peritoneum

Ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer and primary peritoneal cancer usually causes symptoms that are similar to common non-cancerous conditions. This can make it difficult to diagnose early.

If you have any of these symptoms or get these symptoms regularly, your GP should offer you cancer tests:

  • a long-lasting bloated or swollen stomach (tummy)
  • feeling full quickly when you eat
  • loss of appetite
  • pain in the lower tummy area
  • back pain
  • peeing (passing urine) more often than usual
  • needing to pee urgently (feeling like you cannot hold on).

Other symptoms

Other symptoms of ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer and primary peritoneal cancer may include:

  • a change in your normal bowel function (diarrhoea or constipation)
  • weight loss for no obvious reason
  • unexplained or extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • vaginal bleeding after the menopause.

If you are aged 50 or older and develop symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for the first time, you should also have tests. IBS can cause bloating and changes in bowel function. But it does not usually start after the age of 50.

We understand that showing any symptoms of what could be cancer is worrying. The most important thing is to speak to your GP as soon as possible. We are also here if you need someone to talk to. You can:

Transgender (trans) men and people who are non-binary

If you have a womb, ovaries, or fallopian tubes, whether you are a trans man or identify as non-binary, you are still at risk of ovarian cancer.

If you are worried about ovarian cancer, have any of the symptoms, or have a family history, talk to your GP.

The LGBT Foundation can give you confidential advice and support. You can also talk to one of our cancer support specialists.

About our information

  • References

    Below is a sample of the sources used in our ovarian cancer information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at cancerinformationteam@macmillan.org.uk

    Ledermann, Raja, Fotopoulou et al. Newly diagnosed and relapsed epithelial ovarian carcinoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Annals of Oncology, 2013; Volume 24, Supplement 6. Updated online 2020. Available from www.esmo.org/guidelines (accessed July 2021)

    Management of epithelial ovarian cancer. Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN). Nov 2013 revised 2018. Available from www.sign.ac.uk

  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Chief Medical Editor, Professor Tim Iveson, Consultant Medical Oncologist.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.

The language we use

We want everyone affected by cancer to feel our information is written for them.

We try to make sure our information is as clear as possible. We use plain English, avoid jargon, explain any medical words, use illustrations to explain text, and make sure important points are highlighted clearly.

We use gender-inclusive language and talk to our readers as ‘you’ so that everyone feels included. Where clinically necessary we use the terms ‘men’ and ‘women’ or ‘male’ and ‘female’. For example, we do so when talking about parts of the body or mentioning statistics or research about who is affected. Our aims are for our information to be as clear and relevant as possible for everyone.

You can read more about how we produce our information here.