Ovarian cancer: why is it diagnosed so late?


Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer among women and one of  the most lethal. More than 95% of patients diagnosed in a very early stage (Stage I, located in the ovary) will survive more than 5 years with a plateau similar to cure. The abdominal cavity and peritoneum is the normal dissemination route usually with non-specific symptoms such as “floating”, constipation and vaginal bleeding. When the disease is spread to the abdomen only a third of women are disease-free one year and a half later. Can we change this situation?

So far there is not a serum tumor marker that can predict the presence of this disease. Some suggestion could help to improve diagnosis and to achieve a high rate of cure after detecting the tumor inside the ovaries without abdominal spreading:


1. General practitioners needs to be aware of this disease, asking for a complete evaluation if a woman complains several times from the same “non-important symptom” such as constipation, floating, hypogastric pain or symtomps suggesting an urinary infection

2. Women must be an active subject on her own gynecological examination, with their own “Checklist” asking to the doctor about her ovaries and if it,s possible obtaining more information through a vaginal sonogram

Ovarian cancer is a very good example for improving diagnosis. In this case an early diagnosis is associated to a clear improving in the outcome. Doctors  must  be aware of this pathological entity and women have to be engaged on their own diagnostic process.