Real Value' Of Ovarian Cancer Recommendations Might Be Increased Awareness

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The "real value" of recommendations released last week for identifying symptoms that could signal early stages of ovarian cancer might be to "raise awareness" of the disease among physicians and their patients, a New York Times editorial says (New York Times, 6/19).

Experts from the American Cancer Society, Gynecologic Cancer Foundation and Society of Gynecologic Oncologists are calling on women who experience the symptoms -- which include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and a frequent or urgent need to urinate -- every day for two to three weeks to see a gynecologist. The recommendations are expected to be formally announced on June 25 (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 6/14).

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The list of symptoms "could have a very beneficial effect" in alerting patients and doctors of the possible presence of early stage ovarian cancer, which is when the disease is "most treatable," according to the Times. However, there still is a "real quandary as to what should be done for women whose symptoms can't be attributed to other causes," the editorial says.

According to the editorial, the two most common tests to detect ovarian cancer -- a blood test and a transvaginal ultrasound -- are "notoriously inaccurate," and many women still might "opt for surgery to remove the ovary, just to be sure." Although some women will undergo "needless surgeries" as a result of the recommendations, it is "the price that may be paid for this modest step toward detecting a cancer that typically kills most women who have it," the editorial says (New York Times, 6/19).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, searchthe archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a freeservice of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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