Was Your Ovarian Cancer Misdiagnosed?
By James Finch
As many as 30,000 U.S. women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year. In 2006, between 15,000 and 16,000 women are likely to die from this silent killer. Ovarian cancer is the 5th leading cause of death among women, and it is responsible for about five percent of all cancer deaths. Chances are your doctor may have misdiagnosed you. That is often the case. A recent British study found 60 percent of all U.K. general practitioners had misdiagnosed their patients.
Three-quarters of British doctors surveyed incorrectly assumed that symptoms only occurred in the late stages of ovarian cancer. Based upon that information, it should be no surprise that Britain has one of the lowest survival rates for ovarian cancer in the Western World â€?of 6,800 cases diagnosed each year, more than 4,600 die.
A similar discovery was made by University of California researchers, who announced last year, â€œFour in 10 women with ovarian cancer have symptoms that they tell their doctors about at least four months â€?and as long as one year â€?before they are diagnosed.â€?According to their study of nearly 2,000 women with ovarian cancer, the researchers discovered physicians:
â€?First ordered abdominal imaging or performed gastrointestinal procedures instead of the more appropriate pelvic imaging and/or CA-125 (a blood test that can detect ovarian cancer).
â€?Only 25 percent of patients, who reported ovarian cancer symptoms four or more months before diagnosis, were given pelvic imaging or had CA-125 blood tests.
Patients with early symptoms are frequently misdiagnosed. Abdominal imaging or diagnostic gastrointestinal studies are less likely to detect ovarian cancer. According to the American Cancer Societyâ€™s website, â€œThe most common symptom is back pain, followed by fatigue, bloating, constipation, abdominal pain and urinary urgency. These symptoms tend to occur very frequently and become more severe with time. Most women with ovarian cancer have at least two of these symptoms.â€?/P>
By the time a woman reaches the fourth stage of ovarian cancer, her first-line treatment is often Carboplatin, Paclitaxel and Cisplatin as the specific chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. In the first stage, cancer is contained inside one or both ovaries. By stage two, the cancer has spread into the fallopian tubes or other pelvic tissues, such as the bladder or rectum. When the cancer has spread outside the pelvis area into the abdominal cavity, especially when tumor growths are larger than two centimeters on the lining of the abdomen, then ovarian cancer has reached stage three. The fourth and final stage of ovarian cancer is reached when the cancer has spread into other body organs, such as the liver or lungs.
If detected early, survival rates can be as high as 90 percent. Detected in the advanced stage, the survival rate falls to between 30 and 40 percent. Various imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and ultrasound studies can confirm whether a pelvic mass is present. A laparoscopy can help a doctor look at the ovaries and other pelvic tissue to in order to plan out a surgical procedure, or to determine the stage of the ovarian cancer. A biopsy, or tissue sampling, would confirm if there is cancer in your pelvic region, and would help determine how advanced it is. An elevated CA-125 blood test typically suggests the cancer has progressed to the advanced stage.
About 50 percent of ovarian cancer patients are already at an advanced stage by the time a correct diagnosis is made. Only 10 to 14 percent of women with advanced cancer are likely to survive more than five years.