Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ovarian Cancer Does Have Early Warning Signs, Mayo Clinic And Olmsted Medical Center Find

Date:
November 19, 2004
Source:
Mayo Clinic
Summary:
Results from an Olmsted Medical Center and Mayo Clinic study analyzing symptoms recorded in the medical records of ovarian cancer patients suggest ovarian cancer, long considered asymptomatic until late-stage cancer develops, does in fact have early symptoms, including urinary incontinence and abdominal pain.

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Results from an Olmsted Medical Center and Mayo Clinic study analyzing symptoms recorded in the medical records of ovarian cancer patients suggest ovarian cancer, long considered asymptomatic until late-stage cancer develops, does in fact have early symptoms, including urinary incontinence and abdominal pain.

Related Articles


"Ovarian cancer is called 'the silent killer,'" says Barbara Yawn, M.D., director of research at Olmsted Medical Center and the study's lead investigator. "We know now that there are symptoms, yet it appears that women ignore them and physicians don't recognize the potential urgency of evaluating the symptoms."

The most common symptom found in the records of the 107 ovarian cancer patients studied was crampy abdominal pain. Abdominal pain and urinary urgency, frequency or incontinence were the most commonly documented symptoms in women who had Stage I and II, the early stages, of ovarian cancer. In patients with Stages III and IV cancer, the later stages, abdominal pain and increased abdominal girth were the most commonly documented symptoms. Fewer than 25 percent of the symptoms would be considered unique to ovarian cancer or related directly to the reproductive pelvic organs: the uterus, fallopian tubes, cervix and ovaries. The study found the following factors associated with a longer time to diagnosis of patients' ovarian cancer: delays in women seeking medical care, health care system issues, competing medical conditions, physicians' failure to follow up, and women not returning for follow-up.

Brigitte Barrette, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gynecologist and study investigator, found the commonality of urinary leakage symptoms among the ovarian cancer patients particularly interesting. "My surprise with our findings was at the urinary incontinence, because it's not something that has been reported often," she says. "Sudden or marked change in urinary leakage was a symptom. So, incontinence problems that develop over a period of just a few weeks are something to pay attention to."

The difficulty in differentiating symptoms of abdominal pain and urinary incontinence as ovarian cancer predictors lies in the many different diseases or conditions to which these symptoms may point. "Many of the symptoms are more common in other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome or colon cancer," says Dr. Yawn.

Looking for ovarian cancer is a bit like looking for a zebra in a field of horses. "Someone can go to the doctor with bloating, and usually the physician will investigate for the common things," says Dr. Barrette.

"It's like when someone goes to the emergency room with a headache. Most of the time, it's not a stroke. But, that should be considered."

Due to the fact that the symptoms identified in this study can be indicative of many conditions, Drs. Yawn and Barrette suggest that women and their doctors be particularly alert to incontinence and abdominal pain that do not improve with treatment. "When a woman goes in to see her doctor with these abdominal, urinary or pelvic symptoms and the tests for the most common causes are negative, the workup needs to continue," says Dr. Yawn. "Ovarian cancer must be considered. If the symptoms persist and there is not a clear reason, you need to look further." At a minimum, the symptoms require a pelvic examination with an ultrasound and a blood test for ovarian cancer if they do not resolve or do not have another very clear diagnosis within weeks -- not months, agree Drs. Yawn and Barrette.

Another barrier to catching ovarian cancer early is that the cancer's progression is almost entirely in the body's interior. "The diagnosis is so tricky because there is room in the abdomen, and an ovary can grow, form a big mass and progress without the patient even noticing," says Dr. Barrette. "You can't feel it from the outside -- it's inside, and we in the medical community don't have any screening test specifically for ovarian cancer."

Drs. Yawn and Barrette indicate that the symptom of abdominal pain most likely originates from pressure from the tumor or from fluid in the abdomen prompted by the tumor's presence. Urinary incontinence is most likely due to the tumor's pressing on the bladder and causing increased pressure within the abdomen, prompting urine loss.

Dr. Yawn explains that from the data collected in this study, the investigators are unable to draw conclusions about whether catching a patient's symptoms early in the progression of ovarian cancer will make a difference in the treatability of her cancer. Prior studies addressed that issue.

"We know if ovarian cancer is detected at an earlier stage, the survival is about 90 percent; we know that an early stage can make a difference," says Dr. Yawn. Dr. Barrette points out, however, that ovarian cancer can progress from stage to stage in a matter of months, making it far more aggressive than malignancies such as breast cancer.

Ovarian cancer occurs in 1 out of 70 women.

###

This study was published in the October issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, http://www.mayo.edu/proceedings. Study authors include Dr. Yawn, Dr. Barrette, and Peter Wollan, Ph.D., Olmsted Medical Center.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Mayo Clinic. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Mayo Clinic. "Ovarian Cancer Does Have Early Warning Signs, Mayo Clinic And Olmsted Medical Center Find." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 November 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041119014712.htm>.
Mayo Clinic. (2004, November 19). Ovarian Cancer Does Have Early Warning Signs, Mayo Clinic And Olmsted Medical Center Find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041119014712.htm
Mayo Clinic. "Ovarian Cancer Does Have Early Warning Signs, Mayo Clinic And Olmsted Medical Center Find." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041119014712.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins