by Charles Bankhead
— More than 70% of patients reported one or more symptoms prior to diagnosis
More than 70% of women with high-risk early ovarian cancer had one or more symptoms of underlying disease, most often abdominal or pelvic pain, a large retrospective review showed.
Almost a third of the 419 patients reported abdominal or pelvic pain, and one-fourth complained of fullness or increased abdominal girth. Less commonly, patients reported abnormal vaginal bleeding, urinary symptoms, or gastrointestinal symptoms. A third of the patients reported more than one symptom.
The number of symptoms increased with tumor size but not with patient age, disease stage, or histologic subtype.
The findings suggest that the widely held perception of ovarian cancer as a “silent disease” is inaccurate, reported John K. Chan, MD, of Palo Alto Medical Foundation/California Pacific/Sutter Research Institute in San Francisco, and coauthors, in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
“One of these five common symptoms identified in this current report can potentially be used to evaluate patients for early-stage ovarian cancer,” the authors said of their findings.
A prior comprehensive literature review showed that 95% of patients with ovarian cancer had associated symptoms. The lower prevalence of symptoms in the current study probably reflected the fact that all patients had early-stage disease, the authors continued.
“Additional research is warranted to evaluate symptom awareness in early-stage cancers and possibly incorporating novel serum biomarkers and wearable monitoring devices,” Chan and coauthors concluded. “As one of the few studies that describe symptoms of high-risk early-stage ovarian cancer, our data showed that more than 70% of patients present with one or more symptoms. Thus, even in early-stage disease, ovarian cancer is not necessarily a silent disease.”
Abdominal/pelvic pain and fullness/increased abdominal girth accounted for a majority of patient-reported symptoms. In addition, 13% of patients reported vaginal bleeding, 10% reported urinary symptoms, and 5% reported gastrointestinal symptoms.
“It is unclear whether the characteristic symptoms of patients with early-stage disease differ from those with advanced-stage disease,” the authors stated.
This article was published by MedPage Today.