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Persistent bloating

Ovarian cancer symptoms

Bloating is often described in slightly different ways, but usually, it is the uncomfortable feeling of tightness or swelling around the tummy (abdomen). It can be accompanied by pain or the increased need to pass wind.

What can cause bloating?

There are a number of things that could cause someone to feel bloated. The most common causes are:

  • Eating foods such as beans, broccoli and cabbage, and drinking fizzy drinks excessively or quickly
  • Food intolerances to things such as gluten or lactose
  • Certain medications that cause bloating as a side effect, such as aspirin, corticosteroids and opioids
  • Longer-term conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease

Bloating and ovarian cancer

If your bloating is severe, persistent, out of the ordinary or with no obvious explanation it could be a symptom of ovarian cancer. If you are experiencing persistent bloating it is important that you make an appointment to see your GP as soon as possible. Keep a record of your symptoms to take with you to your appointment, this will help to support you with your conversations with your GP and any other Healthcare professional you may be referred to.

Severe bloating and ovarian cancer

In advanced stages of ovarian cancer, bloating can become so severe that the tummy (abdomen) becomes visibly swollen, in some cases this has been mistaken for a pregnancy bump. This swelling is often caused by ‘ascites’, which is a build-up of excess fluid in the membrane that lines the tummy wall and covers the organs inside the tummy. If you are experiencing severe and visible bloating, you should seek an immediate appointment with your GP and ask for urgent referrals for further investigations.

Reviewed: September 2022

Next review: September 2023