Ovarian cancer triggers many abdominal symptoms, such as pain, bloating and upset stomach, the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition states. An individual may urinate more often, feel full quickly during meals, or struggle with fatigue and back soreness. Some sufferers experience pain during sex or changes in their menstrual cycles.
Women often disregard the symptoms of ovarian cancer, especially when they coincide with other common conditions. For example, women may notice weight changes or vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods, PubMed Health notes. They may also develop digestive issues, such as changes in appetite, constipation and nausea. Ovarian cancer is usually detected in an advanced stage when symptoms become persistent.
Ovarian cancer attacks the reproductive organs that store a woman's unfertilized eggs. Tumorous cells mutate and grow uncontrollably inside a woman's ovaries, forming clusters that can spread to the abdomen and pelvis, according to Mayo Clinic. As ovarian cancer spreads, the tumors may press against nearby organs, including the rectum and bladder, the NOCC states.
Doctors conduct pelvic exams to test for ovarian cancer, using a speculum to examine the vaginal cavity and manually checking the abdomen for growths, according to Mayo Clinic. If a doctor suspects the patient has tumors, she may order a blood test or CT scan to determine the stage of the cancer.