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Common Early-Warning Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer Identified in CDC/Thomson Healthcare Study

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Oct. 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- In a study published in the Journal of Women's Health, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Thomson Healthcare (NYSE: TOC; TSK: TOC) found a distinct pattern of medical signs and symptoms that occurred prior to the detection of ovarian cancer.

According to the study, the conditions patients experienced before an ovarian cancer diagnosis included abdominal pain, urinary tract conditions, menopausal disorders, female genital symptoms, and gastrointestinal symptoms. These symptoms were most pronounced in the 30-90 days prior to diagnosis.

To make this determination, researchers analyzed medical claims from 920 patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer and tracked the symptoms those patients experienced prior to diagnosis. These results were compared with claims data for 2,760 women without ovarian cancer matched on age, geographic region, Medicare eligibility, and health plan type.

Five conditions were identified as being possibly related to ovarian cancer because they were reported significantly more frequently by women diagnosed with the cancer than they were in the comparison group. While all symptoms were reported among women with and without ovarian cancer, the rate of these symptoms was higher, and continued to increase, beginning 90 days prior to diagnosis. Abdominal pain was most frequently linked to a subsequent ovarian cancer diagnosis, with 83 percent of women in the ovarian cancer group recording abdominal pain within 30 days of diagnosis in contrast to fewer than two percent in the comparison group.

Other symptoms more frequently recorded for the ovarian cancer group included female genital symptoms, which were 3.5 times more frequent, and gastrointestinal symptoms, which were 1.5 to 2 times more frequent. Urinary tract disorders and menopausal symptoms were also recorded twice as frequently among the women in the ovarian cancer group.

This study found that while the presence of ovarian cancer-related symptoms and conditions prior to diagnoses was documented in the medical claims data, this increase was most pronounced in the two to three months prior to diagnosis. Still, there remains a challenge to link symptoms with ovarian cancer, as many of the related symptoms are also present for several other disorders and diseases.

"Ovarian cancer is most often diagnosed at the later stages," said Stella Chang, research director at Thomson Healthcare and co-author of the study. "Identifying a pattern of symptoms can keep doctors one step ahead of a dangerous disease. It is important to understand that these symptoms do not automatically dictate that a woman has ovarian cancer, but recognizing them could lead to earlier diagnosis and more treatment options to save a patient's life."

About the Study

The study, "Temporal Patterns of Conditions and Symptoms Potentially Associated with Ovarian Cancer," was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Thomson Healthcare. It is published in the September issue of the Journal of Women's Health (Volume 16, Number 7, pp. 971-986.)

The authors are Michelle Wynn, formerly of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control; Stella Chang of Thomson Healthcare; and Lucy Peipins of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.

About Thomson Healthcare

Thomson Healthcare is the leading provider of decision support solutions that help organizations across the healthcare industry improve clinical and business performance. Thomson Healthcare products and services help clinicians, hospitals, employers, health plans, government agencies, and pharmaceutical companies manage the cost and improve the quality of healthcare. Thomson Healthcare is a part of The Thomson Corporation, a provider of value-added information, software tools and applications to professionals in the fields of healthcare, law, tax, accounting, scientific research, and financial services. The Corporation's common shares are listed on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC). For more information, visit (

SOURCE Thomson Healthcare
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