|July 2005 · Vol. 17, No. 7
UPDATE on GYNECOLOGIC CANCER
New Developments That Are Changing Patient Care
Distinctive symptoms flag early ovarian cancer … Where’s the blood test? … Don’t fail to counsel risk-reducing BSO … Serial histologic sectioning is vital
Triad of symptoms found in early ovarian cancer
Associate Professor, Department of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
This Update reviews recent findings of importance to obstetricians and gynecologists. Late detection of ovarian cancer is still the main reason for the high mortality rate of the most deadly of the gynecologic cancers. Approximately 22,200 women will be newly diagnosed in the United States this year, and there will be 16,210 deaths. Since ovarian cancer is still initially detected in its advanced stages in more than 70% of cases, when cure rates are low, early detection and prevention remain our greatest challenge. The gynecologic oncologist’s opportunity to successfully treat malignancy depends on early detection, and therefore physicians providing primary care for women are our firstline guardians.
Ovarian cancer is not a silent disease. It was believed to be a “silent killer” because it was thought to be asymptomatic until a woman had very advanced disease. However, Goff and colleagues, in a previous study, found that 95% of women with ovarian cancer had had symptoms prior to diagnosis—and that the type of symptoms was not significantly different, whether disease was early stage or late stage.