Tags: ovarian | cancer | survey

Study: Six Signs Flag Ovarian Cancer

Tuesday, 25 September 2012 12:53 PM

Oncologists have devised a simple three-question survey, given to women in the doctor's office, that can accurately identify those who are experiencing symptoms that may indicate ovarian cancer.
Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center said the survey – which centers on six symptoms – is the first ovarian cancer screening tool that can be used in a primary care setting for normal-risk women as part of their routine medical-history assessment.
A study of the survey’s effectiveness, reported in the Open Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, showed it carries up to a 95 percent accuracy rate.
The survey contains three questions that ask whether a woman is currently experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, all of which have been identified as potentially indicative of ovarian cancer:
• Abdominal and/or pelvic pain.
• Feeling full quickly and/or unable to eat normally.
• Abdominal bloating and/or increased abdomen size.
The survey also asked about the frequency and duration of these symptoms: how many days a month and for how long?
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"Symptoms such as pelvic pain and abdominal bloating may be a sign of ovarian cancer but they also can be caused by other conditions. What's important is to determine whether they are current, of recent onset and occur frequently," said lead researcher M. Robyn Andersen, a member of the Hutchinson Center's Public Health Sciences Division.
Past studies by Andersen and colleagues found 60 percent of women with early-stage ovarian cancer and 80 percent of women with advanced disease report symptoms that follow this distinctive pattern.
"Women with symptoms that are frequent, continual and new to them in the past year should talk to their doctor, as they may be candidates for further evaluation with ultrasound and blood tests that measure markers of ovarian cancer such as CA-125," she said. "Recent research indicates that approximately one in 140 women with symptoms may have ovarian cancer. Aggressive follow-up of these symptoms can lead to diagnosis when ovarian cancer can be caught earlier and more effectively treated."
The Hutchinson study involved 1,200 women, aged 40 to 87, in a Seattle women's health clinic. Of those surveyed, 5 percent had a positive symptom score that indicated the need for further testing. Of this group of about 60 women, one was diagnosed with ovarian cancer shortly thereafter. Of the 95 percent of women who tested negative on the survey, none developed ovarian cancer during a 12-month follow-up period – indicating a high degree of accuracy.
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"If ovarian cancer screening using symptoms is widely adopted, maximizing the specificity of screening programs will be important," the researchers said. "Until better biomarkers are identified and tested, collecting information about symptoms appears to have promise."
Experts note early detection of ovarian cancer is key to survival. Cure rates for those diagnosed when the disease is confined to the ovary are approximately 70 percent to 90 percent. But more than 70 percent of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed with advanced-stage disease, when the survival rate is only 20 percent to 30 percent.

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Oncologists have devised a simple office survey that can accurately identify ovarian cancer patients.
Tuesday, 25 September 2012 12:53 PM
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