Will list of symptoms for ovarian cancer save lives?

The American Cancer Society along with CancerCare, Gilda's Club and several other medical groups have released a consensus statement listing the symptoms for ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is a disease which is difficult to diagnose in the early stages but is one of the deadliest forms of cancer.

Apart from skin cancer ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer in women and the fifth most common cause of cancer death and this is the first time cancer experts have issued a list of symptoms for the cancer.

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 22,430 new cases of ovarian cancer in the U.S. in 2007 and around 15,280 women will die this year from the disease; two-thirds of cases are in women 55 or older.

A woman's risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 67 and the risk of getting this cancer and dying from it is 1 in 95.

One of the reasons the disease is so deadly is because doctors believed there were no early symptoms of ovarian cancer and there is no screening test for the condition.

The main way to detect the cancer early is by a pelvic examination and the disease has gone undiagnosed in women because there was no agreement on common symptoms.

The American Cancer Society has come up with a consensus statement along with the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation and the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists and say women should see their doctor if they suffer, for at least three weeks, one or more of these symptoms daily:

Bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and frequent or urgent urination.

But some experts while they welcome the guidelines say there are problems as the symptoms echo those of other diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome and there are no highly accurate tests to clearly confirm ovarian cancer in women who have the symptoms.

They say recognizing the symptoms may in some cases lead to biopsies and other treatments that will cause more harm than benefit and not save lives.

Experts say in this way the disease is frustrating but the statement was issued because recent research has suggested the sudden onset of the symptoms in healthy women may be an important indicator.

They hope that the new recommendations will increase doctor and patient awareness about early symptoms of ovarian cancer, which could help prolong patient survival and possibly save lives.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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