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It’s important to be able to recognize the signs of ovarian cancer, and this can sometimes be a challenge. Typically, ovarian cancer progresses very rapidly and produces only vague symptoms. But, even though it has long been dubbed "the silent cancer," it can perhaps be more accurately described as a cancer that "whispers." In fact, many women are not completely blindsided by it.

What does ovarian cancer feel like?

Because every woman and every cancer are different, the symptoms of ovarian cancer can vary widely, and some are less common than others. Some women report feeling "off" for several months prior to receiving a diagnosis. In general, any health change that lasts longer than usual should raise a red flag, even if it would otherwise not cause concern.

The most commonly reported signs of ovarian cancer are abdominal pain and bloating. In addition, here are some less common symptoms of ovarian cancer:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Uncomfortable fullness after eating only a small amount of food
  • Heartburn
  • Frequent or urgent urination
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue

It must be emphasized that none of these symptoms is a conclusive sign of ovarian cancer. Most can occur for a number of other, less serious reasons, such as indigestion or the natural hormonal fluctuations that take place during a woman’s menstrual cycle. Therefore, it’s important for every woman to pay close attention to any health changes that are out of the ordinary – no matter how minor they may seem – and to promptly see a physician if things don’t return to normal within a few weeks.

If you are experiencing signs of ovarian cancer or simply have a gut feeling that something isn’t quite right with your body, the experienced oncologists in the gynecologic clinic at Moffitt Cancer Center can evaluate your symptoms, answer your questions and provide treatment recommendations, if necessary. You can request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online. We do not require referrals.