What is Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is cancer that forms in tissues of the ovary (one of a pair of female reproductive glands in which the ova, or eggs, are formed). Most ovarian cancers are either ovarian epithelial carcinomas (cancer that begins in the cells on the surface of the ovary) or malignant germ cell tumors (cancer that begins in egg cells).

Ovarian Cancer Signs and Symptoms

It is important for women to recognize the symptoms and risk factors of ovarian cancer, and talk to one of our Penn Medicine physicians if they experience any of the following:

  • Pelvic or abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Vague but persistent gastrointestinal upsets such as gas, nausea, and indigestion
  • Frequent and/or urgent urination in the absence of an infection
  • Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
  • Pelvic and/or abdominal swelling, bloating and/or feeling of fullness
  • Ongoing unusual fatigue
  • Unexplained changes in bowel habits

Swelling, pressure, bloating or pain in the abdomen or pelvis that lasts for more than a few weeks should be checked by a doctor. If these symptoms persist after evaluation, even if you did not receive a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, you should make another appointment for a follow-up visit or second opinion.

Penn Medicine's Cancer Risk Evaluation Program for breast and ovarian cancer can aid in determining your cancer risk.

These symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so it is best to contact a Penn Medicine physician for a diagnosis.