The new statement -- issued by the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation, Society of
Gynecologic Oncologists, and American Cancer Society -- could help women note
ovarian cancer's possible early warning symptoms and seek help swiftly.
According to the statement, the following symptoms are much more likely to
occur in women with ovarian cancer than in women in the general population:
Pelvic or abdominal pain
Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
"Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks should
see their doctor, preferably a gynecologist," the organizations state.
The organizations note that "women with ovarian cancer report that symptoms
are persistent and represent a change from normal for their bodies" and that
several studies have highlighted these symptoms even in the early stages of
However, those symptoms don't always indicate ovarian cancer. Only doctors
can diagnose ovarian cancer.
About Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer in U.S. women, with about
22,430 new cases and 15,280 deaths expected this year, according to the
American Cancer Society (ACS).
The consensus statement was based on work by researchers including Barbara
Goff, MD, a gynecologic oncologist at the University of Washington.
"This agreement on common symptoms of ovarian cancer hopefully will lead to
earlier diagnosis when a cure is more likely," Goff says in a Gynecologic
Cancer Foundation news release.
"We know that when women are diagnosed in stage I of the disease, it is 90%
curable," Goff notes, adding that "unfortunately, until now there has been no
agreement on common symptoms, allowing women to go undiagnosed, despite visits
to the doctor, until it was too late."
WebMD interviewed Goff in December 2006, when Goff and colleagues published
an article in the journal Cancer on the early warning symptoms of
Goff told WebMD that the possible symptoms she and her colleagues identified
-- which are in line with the symptoms noted by the three cancer organizations
-- are "very common symptoms that everyone has from time to time."
"The purpose is not to scare women and make everyone think they have ovarian
cancer," Goff told WebMD. "It is to alert women and their physicians that there
may be cause for concern if these symptoms come on quickly and occur with
Discuss your concerns about ovarian cancer on WebMD's Women's Health:
Friends Talking message board.
SOURCES: News release, Gynecologic Cancer Foundation. National Cancer
Institute: "A Snapshot of Ovarian Cancer." American Cancer Society: "How Many
Women Get Ovarian Cancer?" WebMD Medical News: "Symptom List Helps ID Ovarian