Ovarian Cancer Symptoms, as Experienced by Real Patients

Ovarian cancer can cause a wide variety of symptoms in patients prior to diagnosis. Below are some of the first signs that real ovarian cancer patients experienced before they sought medical advice.

First signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer:

  • Abdominal bloating, pressure, or pain
  • Changes in urination – pressure on bladder or difficulty urinating
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation, or pain during bowel movements
  • Growth / lump on right side of abdomen

»MORE: Ovarian cancer patient stories

How patients described their first signs of ovarian cancer

Read on for how real ovarian cancer patients described their first symptoms.

Abdominal bloating, pressure, or pain

“I would really only notice [the abdominal pain] when I was laying down, usually after I ate a meal. I would think oh, my ovaries hurt or something’s going on.”

– Jodi Smith | Read more →

“I had an unusual feeling of pressure and discomfort on my right side. I felt it because the tumor was right up against my liver, and they say the liver is very sensitive. Otherwise, I might not have felt it at all.”

– Susan Rienzo | Read more →

“I realize now that I had been saying I was feeling bloated for a while. I felt like every time I ate, I was eating Thanksgiving dinner. I was always stuffed.”

– Shirley Pattan | Read more →

Changes in urination

“About a year ago, I was at work, and I couldn’t pee. It happened three or four times, and I had to be catheterized.”

– Suzann Bedichek | Read more →

“My first symptom was probably a pulling or cramping sensation when I emptied my bladder. I thought I had a UTI or a bladder infection. It was intermittent. It wasn’t constant, so I just passed it off as something I would watch.”

– Shirley Pattan | Read more →

Pain during sexual intercourse

“I noticed pretty significant pain with intercourse, and the pain eventually became constant. It was like this constant sharp ache.”

– Shirley Pattan | Read more →


Heather McCollum with her family

“I noticed feeling always tired. What mom isn’t?”

– Heather McCollum | Read more →

Constipation, or pain during bowel movements

“I was having a lot of constipation. Then my blood count was really low. My doctor referred me to a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy because they were thinking that that was probably the reason. There was nothing. [For the rest of the year], I would still go back to the doctor and tell her I was having these symptoms. The diagnosis was irritable bowel syndrome, which has similar symptoms to ovarian cancer. I was also having incontinence so I was referred to the urologist.”

– Maurissa Mitchem | Read more →

“My first symptoms actually started a year before I was diagnosed. I was in and out of the ER about six times with horrible constipation that would lead to stomach cramping, I would just throw up constantly.”

– Cheyann Shaw | Read more →

Growth / lump on right side of abdomen

“A bump appeared on my right side. It was the size of a golf ball on my stomach. I was laying down and noticed it. A few weeks later, it was still there. We had given it until then because we thought it might be a cyst or something since I hadn’t had my period. A few more weeks later, I started getting shooting pains where that lump was, and it was so bad that I couldn’t walk. It would last for 5 or 6 seconds and then it would go away.”

– Cheyann Shaw | Read more →

Irregular menstruation

“I actually thought I was pregnant for a while because every month, my period was missing or irregular.”

– Cheyann Shaw | Read more →

More ovarian cancer symptoms

“I went to the doctor…because I was getting some pain in my rectum. I wasn’t sure if I had a hemorrhoid or what. It was this weird, aching pain…I dealt with it for about a week or so, and finally my boss recommended her doctor to me.”

– Alisa Manzelli | Read more →

What to do if you’re experiencing symptoms

If you or a loved one is persistently experiencing any of the above signs, it’s important to take action.

Having the above symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean ovarian cancer is the root cause, however, they should be taken seriously so that any existing conditions can be diagnosed as early as possible.

Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your symptoms and the right course of action for your health.

»MORE: Being your own health advocate