Ovarian cancer: Not so silent?

April 1, 2010

A symptom complex that includes early satiety, bloating, abdominal and/or pelvic pain, and urinary changes frequently precedes a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.

A symptom complex that includes early satiety, bloating, abdominal and/or pelvic pain, and urinary changes frequently precedes a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. The bad news is that awareness of these symptoms is not yet translating into earlier diagnosis or increased overall survival, according to the findings of a recent retrospective case-control study at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, Washington.

Researchers calculated that such symptoms are about 10 times more common in women ultimately diagnosed with the disease.

The symptoms were present whether the women had early- or late-stage cancer, whether they had invasive or borderline tumors, and whether they had type I or II tumors.

In the end, however, the authors calculated that using symptoms to trigger a workup for ovarian cancer would likely result in only 1 more diagnosis in 100 women.

Cass T, Karlan BY. Ovarian cancer symptoms speak out-but what are they really saying? J Natl Cancer Inst. 2010;102(4):211-212.

Rossing MA, Wicklund KG, Cushing-Haugen KL, Weiss NS. Predictive value of symptoms for early detection of ovarian cancer. J Natl Cancer lnst. 2010;102(4):222-229.