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Kelly Mellott

Awareness of Ovarian Cancer Symptoms Still Key to Early Diagnosis

Despite a recent study concluding that there is little value in paying attention to symptoms of ovarian cancer to detect the disease in its earliest, most treatable stage, the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) is urging women to continue to be their own health advocates.

“Since there is no early detection test for ovarian cancer, it’s imperative for women to pay attention to changes in their bodies,” says David Barley, Chief Executive Officer of NOCC. “While it’s true, statistically, most women who experience symptoms such as persistent bloating, pelvic pain and nausea will not have ovarian cancer, some will have it. It remains important for women to talk to their doctors if they experience symptoms for longer than two weeks, especially if these symptoms are new to them.”

According to a study published recently in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, only about one percent of women who experience symptoms actually have early-stage ovarian cancer. The report concluded that relying on symptoms alone to identify those who have the disease isn’t an effective way to detect the disease early.

Since there is no early screening test, most ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed in their later stages when the prognosis is poor.  However if diagnosed and treated early, when the cancer is confined to the ovary, the five-year survival rate is over 90 percent.

“Until there is an accurate screening test, recognizing the early symptoms of ovarian cancer is key,” says Barley. “We would not want women to dismiss their symptoms when early diagnosis can be life-saving.” 

The NOCC is dedicated to raising awareness and increasing education about ovarian cancer.  Established in 1995, the organization is committed to improving the survival rate and quality of life for women with this cancer.

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