Ovarian cancer starts in the ovaries and nearby tissues like the fallopian tubes or peritoneum. According to the American Cancer Society, it’s the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women.

Early ovarian cancer may not have any symptoms. Additionally, when they are present, many symptoms of ovarian cancer resemble other common gynecological conditions. This can lead to delays in diagnosis and treatment.

The outlook for ovarian cancer is best when it’s found and treated early. Because of this, knowing the symptoms and risk factors for ovarian cancer is vital. That way, you can see a doctor promptly if you develop concerning symptoms.

The potential symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

Pay attention to symptoms that are persistent

Many of the symptoms described above can happen due to other common conditions and go away with time or treatment. With ovarian cancer, the symptoms are often persistent, becoming more severe as time passes.

Knowing the risk factors for ovarian cancer is important. If you have risk factors, talk with a doctor about screening tests that can help detect ovarian cancer early.

Many risk factors are associated with your personal or family medical history and include:

Additional risk factors for ovarian cancer are:

Having risk factors doesn’t mean you’ll get ovarian cancer

Remember that having one or more risk factors doesn’t mean that you’ll definitely get ovarian cancer. It means that you’re at an elevated risk compared to the general population. If you’re at an elevated risk for ovarian cancer, talk with a doctor as you may need more frequent monitoring.

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any of the symptoms described above and:

  • have one or more risk factors for ovarian cancer
  • notice that the symptoms linger, even with treatment
  • experience symptoms that begin to worsen