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News » Filed under: Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian Cancer Has Early Symptoms

Article date: June 14, 2007

First National Consensus on Common Warning Signs

Historically, ovarian cancer has been called the "silent killer" because symptoms often became apparent so late in the process that chances of a cure were poor.

A catchy phrase, but it is wrong, according to a consensus statement released Tuesday by the American Cancer Society, the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation, and the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists. In fact, these experts say, recent medical studies show identifiable symptoms often do exist for ovarian cancer, even in the early stages. The most common of these are: 

  • bloating
  • pelvic or abdominal pain
  • trouble eating or feeling full quickly
  • urinary symptoms, such as urgent or frequent feelings of needing to go

(For more information, including other, less common symptoms, please read "How Is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed?"  in the ACS Detailed Guide to Ovarian Cancer.) 

 Symptoms such as the ones listed above are, of course, relatively common and occur with any number of ailments. In fact, they are more likely to be due to causes other than ovarian cancer. But when their occurrence is unusual, when they are present almost daily, and when they last for more than a few weeks, they should prompt a woman to see a doctor, preferably a gynecologist, the cancer groups recommend.

Better safe than sorry, statistics suggest, because when ovarian cancer is diagnosed early, the chance for a cure is much better.

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 22,430 new cases of ovarian cancer in 2007 in the United States. While 93% of women diagnosed with early stage ovarian cancer will survive 5 years or more, and most of them will be cured, only 19% of ovarian cancers are found at that early stage, before they have spread outside the ovary. As a result, ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women and accounts for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproduction system. It is estimated that there will be about 15,280 deaths from ovarian cancer in the United States during 2007. 

The new recommendations have been endorsed by more than a dozen other groups, including CancerCare, Gilda's Club and several medical societies.

Additional Resources:
Specific Symptoms May Signal Ovarian Cancer


Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff

ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases.

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