Malignant ascites is the build-up of large volumes of fluid in the peritoneal cavity secondary to cancer. In the absence of malignancy, liver disease is responsible for over 80% of cases of ascites.
Patients with ascites present with distended abdomen, difficulty mobilising, shortness of breath, fatigue and altered bowel habit. For ovarian cancer patients, the onset of ascites makes them feel unwell and they often describe ascites as the worst experience of their cancer journey.
Ovarian cancer has been described as the ‘silent killer’ due to the minimal number of symptoms associated with it at diagnosis. However, for patients who do not present with ascites initially but develop ascites at disease relapse, it can be the first visible manifestation of their disease.