Primary Care doctor’s awareness of ovarian cancer symptoms

I have read about and talked to many women whose doctors put them off and misdiagnosed symptoms that turned out to be ovarian cancer. I am thinking many are unaware of ovarian cancer symptoms. I think there is a great need to educate Primary Care doctors and make them  more aware of how ovarian cancer can present. 


  • I agree. That happened to me. My doctor initially diagnosed my copious vaginal discharge as an infection even though even I knew it was something else. The delay in proper diagnosis was unnecessary and upsetting.
  • @Basil7529

    I hear your disappointment and frustration. I doubt there is anyone who would disagree with the need for a reliable screening tool for this disease; something that does not yet exist and therefore makes diagnosis all that more difficult given symptoms were told to look for are not OVC specific. 

    Bloating, digestive issues, bowel issues, abdominal pain, lower back aches, the most common complaints, can also be attributed to many other conditions.  Couple that with the fact that OVC represents only a small group of women (3100 diagnosed annually) compared to breast cancer (26000 diagnosed annually) and  most family physicians, even gynecologists,  have never even seen a case and therefore diagnosis tends to be done by process of elimination with OVC being the last to be considered, not the first. 

    Right now the only effective means of moving OVC to the forefront of consideration is through awareness, much of which has been driven by the work OCC does on our behalf, and by advocating for yourself with your medical support. If you do suspect OVC, then push for it to be considered as your complaints are investigated.....keep a diary or journal of symptoms to establish those that are persistent, and increasing.  Use it to rule out other causes.  Ask for ultrasounds, scans and blood work. And consider genetic testing for a predisposition to the disease if that's available to you.  Most of all do everything you can to raise awareness with your family, friends and social contacts.  I know mine must see me as a broken record but if does encourage one woman to seek diagnosis earlier than she would have then that's one more life we may have saved.   

    I wish you both well in your treatment and recovery.  Despite delays in getting your diagnosis and treatment started, we are in a era where survivors are being rendered cancer free more and more frequently or at least living longer and better lives with the disease.  I was at advanced stage when diagnosed in 2017 and given a prognosis of roughly 3 years once we'd established first line treatment did not leave me NED.  But here I am in my 5th year, with two more recurrences under my belt and being treated successfully so far for the 3rd.  It's not the life I'd imagined for myself  at this age, but rather than dwell on everything that was missed that could have established the cancer earlier and possibly given me a better outcome, I channel that energy into to driving my own advocacy for better screening, and more research and the advancement of awareness within my own network and community.

    Keep us posted on your progress and use this community to share your thoughts and feelings, ask questions, and encourage others. You are never alone in this group.
  • When I first presented to my doctor with symptoms, we both agreed it was my IBS acting up since I was going through a stressful time just before retiring at work. However, shortly after that appointment, I experienced different symptoms and I knew it wasn't IBS. He sent me for a pelvic ultrasound and when that showed a mass on my ovary, he requested an MRI. I was lucky that my doctor took the necessary steps to check it out.
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