7 Clues to Ovarian Cancer
Researchers Find 7 Symptoms Linked With Ovarian Cancer, Dispelling ‘Silent Killer’ Reputation
WebMD News Archive
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms and Screening
Women often use the term bloating for distension, Hamilton writes. But
medical experts generally consider distension as a progressive increase in
abdominal size; bloating is an intermittent increase and decrease.
Under current guidelines in the U.K., Hamilton notes in the paper, abdominal
distension is not a symptom that warrants "urgent investigation."
In the U.S., bloating is one of the symptoms that is likely to persist in
women with ovarian cancer compared to women in the general population,
according to the American Cancer Society. If a woman complains of bloating, her
doctor will likely do a thorough physical exam, and perhaps a CA-125 blood
test, which measures a protein found in the blood of many women with ovarian
cancer, or a transvaginal ultrasound.
Routine screening with CA-125 and transvaginal ultrasound isn't done in the
general population, according to the ACS, nor is routine screening for ovarian
cancer recommended by the American Cancer Society or other medical
organizations. But the tests are often offered to women at high risk of ovarian
cancer, such as those with a very strong family history of the disease.
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms: Other Opinions
The study results add to several other studies also finding that ovarian
cancer isn't as "silent" as experts thought, says Andrew Li, MD, a gynecologic
oncologist at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles. "I think this
reinforces what a lot of other studies have shown, that there are symptoms of
ovarian cancer, and that patients and physicians should be aware of them."
Although Hamilton's team found three symptoms to be present more than six
months before diagnosis of ovarian cancer, Li says the clinical picture he
encounters with his patients is typically different. ''Patients are in their
usual state of health and in a three- or four-week period, they develop these
symptoms -- mostly the three [pain, distension, and frequency]."
In an editorial accompanying the study, researcher Joan Austoker of the
University of Oxford notes that the overall five-year survival rate from
ovarian cancer is poor, about 30% to 40%. That increases to more than 70% for
women diagnosed early, she notes, but currently just one-fifth of patients are
The abdominal distension symptom, she concludes, warrants urgent