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Early detection is key in the fight against ovarian cancer
Date:9/15/2011

CHICAGO Ovarian cancer is a rare but often deadly disease that can strike at any time in a woman's life. It affects one in 70 women and in the past was referred to as a silent killer, but researchers have found there are symptoms associated with ovarian cancer that can assist in early detection. Experts at Northwestern Memorial say the best defense is to make use of preventive methods, understand the risks and recognize potential warning signs of ovarian cancer.

"Currently, there is no reliable screening test to identify early ovarian cancer. Women need to focus on good health habits, listen to their bodies and tell their doctor if a change occurs," said Diljeet Singh, MD, gynecological oncologist and co-director of the Ovarian Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Catching ovarian cancer early increases five-year survival odds from 30 percent to more than 90 percent. But the symptoms of ovarian cancer often mimic other less dangerous conditions making it difficult to recognize. Singh says women should be aware of possible early warning signs which include:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
  • Increased abdominal size (pants getting tighter around waist)

Singh comments that the frequency and number of symptoms is important and women who experience a combination of these symptoms almost daily for two to three weeks should see their doctor.

Doctors say it is not clear what causes ovarian cancer but there are factors that increase the odds of developing the disease including carrying a mutation of the BRCA gene, having a personal history of breast cancer or a family history of ovarian cancer, being over the age of 45 or if a woman is obese. If a woman is high-risk, doctors recommend screening begin at age 20 to 25, or five to 10 years earlier than the younges
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Contact: Angela Salerno
asalerno@nmh.org
312-926-8327
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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