Early diagnosis is vital; symptoms can often mimic digestive problems
SUNDAY, Oct. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Ovarian cancer has long had a reputation as a silent killer, because many people believed it gave no warning signs until far advanced.
But women suffering from the disease knew differently. They knew they had certain symptoms that were common from patient to patient.
"Survivors for years have said there are symptoms for the disease, but no one listened to them," said Jane Langridge, chief executive officer for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.
Now, doctors have agreed with them.
A screening test has been developed that, in one study, accurately detected early stage ovarian cancer 57 percent of the time.
Based on that and similar studies, experts from the American Cancer Society, the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation and the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists have agreed on a set of symptoms that can be signs of early ovarian cancer.
"We want people to know it's not the silent killer. There are symptoms women can bring to their doctors that are important to pay attention to," said Dr. Linda Duska, a member of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition's medical advisory board and a gynecologic oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, in Boston.
"This agreement is significant in the fact that, maybe if we pay more attention to symptoms, we can catch them sooner and have more success in treating them," she continued.
Early detection of ovarian cancer is crucial.
More than 22,000 U.S. women will be diagnosed with the disease this year, and three-fourths of them -- more than 15,000 -- will die from it, according to the National Cancer Institute.
If caught in the early stages, the five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is 90 percent. But 75 percent of women are still diagnosed in the advanced stages, when the prognosis is poor.
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