First National Consensus On Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

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National Ovarian Cancer Coalition joins the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation and other national organizations in announcing the first national agreement on ovarian cancer symptoms.

Often referred to as the "silent killer" due to the common belief that there are no warning signs or symptoms, ovarian cancer is the most deadly reproductive cancer.

The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation led this effort to form a consensus in response to ovarian cancer survivors who long held the belief that there were common symptoms of ovarian cancer. Researchers, including Dr. Barbara Goff, a gynecologic oncologist at the University of Washington, have conducted conclusive research that demonstrates that the following symptoms are much more likely to occur in women with ovarian cancer than women in the general population. These symptoms include:

-- Bloating

-- Pelvic or abdominal pain

-- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly

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-- 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.

"This agreement on common symptoms of ovarian cancer hopefully will lead to earlier diagnosis when a cure is more likely," said Dr. Goff. "We know that when women are diagnosed in Stage I of the disease, it is 90% curable. 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."

"Because there is no screening tool, it is crucial that the medical community has come to a formal consensus that symptoms of ovarian cancer exist and the appropriate action needs to be taken immediately when women discuss them with physicians," says Jane Langridge, chief executive officer of NOCC. "Ovarian cancer is taking far too many lives and we hope these findings jumpstart public dialogue and awareness to ultimately improve survival rates."

It is estimated that more than 22,000 women will be told they have ovarian cancer this year and more than 15,000 will die from this deadly cancer. Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women. At present, about 80% of these cancers are not diagnosed in their early stages, leading to a reduced chance of survival.

"In response to the lack of awareness of ovarian cancer symptoms, NOCC recently launched the 'Break the Silence' campaign to educate women about the signs and symptoms of the disease, and to encourage them to pay attention to their bodies and proactively engage in discussions with their physicians," says April Donahue, president of NOCC.

This consensus will facilitate a coordinated educational effort that will result in both physicians and women considering ovarian cancer when women experience these symptoms.

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