Ovarian cancer symptom survey may improve early detection in primary care settings
A simple three-question paper-and-pencil survey, given to women in the doctor’s office in less than two minutes, can effectively identify those who are experiencing symptoms that may indicate ovarian cancer, according to a study by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The study represents the first evaluation of an ovarian cancer symptom-screening tool in a primary care setting among normal-risk women as part of their routine medical-history assessment. The results are published online in the Open Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Early detection promises a cure rate of approximately 70 to 90 percent. However, more than 70 percent of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed with advanced-stage disease, when the survival rate is only 20 to 30 percent.
The researchers evaluated the effectiveness and feasibility of several different symptom screening surveys, settling on three questions that focus on the following symptoms as potential indicators of ovarian cancer:
- Abdominal and/or pelvic pain
- Feeling full quickly and/or unable to eat normally
- Abdominal bloating and/or increased abdomen size
The survey then asks about the frequency and duration of these symptoms. The study questionnaire that was tested in the clinic was based on a symptom-screening index developed in 2006 by Andersen and co-author Barbara Goff, M.D., professor and director of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Washington School of Medicine