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New Information about Ovarian Cancer

separator Women whose breast cancer is caught early have high cure rates, but in 75 percent of the cases, ovarian cancer is detected in later stages. A new study has indicated that women who have ovarian cancer experience a cluster of symptoms that should signal women and their doctors to determine whether ovarian cancer is, indeed, present.

Many women with ovarian cancer experience a swollen abdomen, a bloated feeling, and a strong need to urinate. The symptoms are persistent, meaning they pretty much don’t go away, and they are severe. The confusing thing is that many women who don’t have ovarian cancer also experience these symptoms, so it’s not always a clear signal that they have ovarian cancer. But the study showed that 43 percent of women with ovarian cancer experienced all three symptoms, while only eight percent of women who didn’t have cancer experienced all three.

Additionally, women with ovarian cancer were more likely to report the symptoms within several weeks after they started, rather than months or even years later. Their symptoms were also likely to be more severe and to occur every day or almost every day.

Ovarian cancer has often been called “the silent killer,” because it so often goes undetected. It’s true that there are women who don’t experience the classic symptoms, but for the 43 percent who do, it’s crucial to get a diagnosis as quickly as possible.

Journal of the American Medical Association, 10 June 2004.
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