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New ways to diagnose ovarian cancer

Massachusetts readers may be interested to know that there is a possibility that CA-125, a protein that has been used for many years to predict the recurrence of ovarian cancer, may also be an effective cancer screening tool when it is used to evaluate changes in protein concentration over time. Ovarian cancer is the second most common reproductive cancer, but the most likely to lead to death, in addition to being the most often missed diagnosis.

According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, there will likely be more than 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed by the end of 2013. They also estimate that 14,000 of these cases will result in the death of the patient. The disease is only caught early about 20 percent of the time, but in those cases, it does have a 5-year survival rate of approximately 92 percent. Once the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, the survival rate drops to 27 percent.

The problem with making an early diagnosis is that the symptoms are vague and include abdominal bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, urinary problems and trouble eating. These complaints are often diagnosed as digestive or urinary issues, so by the time that ovarian cancer is finally diagnosed, the five-year-survival rate has taken a large dip. There is evidence that using the CA-125 protein and viewing the top four symptoms when they occur together as a sign of cancer are ways to catch the disease in the early stages.

A misdiagnosis of a disease can be devastating to patients and their families. If a patient or surviving family members feel that a doctor or medical facility didn't act in a responsible manner, it may be wise to allow a medical malpractice attorney review the case. The attorney may recommend a course of action that could possibly lead to a settlement to cover medical bills and other related expenses.

Source: Bay State Banner, "New hope for ovarian cancer screening", Karen Miller, September 23, 2013

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