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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.
  • Fearless_Moderator

    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.
  • Hi I too had told my doctor over a period of 2 to 3 years that my bowels were functioning differently and nothing was done when I finally called and said I needed a colonoscopy or something because it was just too difficult with my bowels having to use prunes and juices and bran flakes to have a bowel movement he said that we would have to do something less invasive which was a CAT scan which did show that I had nodes on my one remaining ovary and some on the bowel . That was in November 20 20, I started chemo four rounds of paclitaxel and the other accompanying one then had four weeks of recovery from that followed by major surgery in Hamilton Ontario with removal of everything including my omentum. I recovered for four weeks from that and then had a further four rounds of chemo. During this time neuropathy in my feet started and my appetite was pretty well nonexistent as well as no taste for anything. So lived on things that were easy to just take out of the cupboard or fridge and existed but gradually when my chemo ended the end of May my appetite started to return and I discovered that things started to taste good again which hadn’t really done so in many years because I had felt so full and bloated whenever I ate that is now all gone and I certainly do have a good appetite now of which I have to keep a closer eye on as I am gaining weight. My three month check ups CAT scan bloodwork are normal and the oncologist has told me that I have a 70% chance of survival I am aware that it may come back but I’m trying to move on and move forward and be positive. I do rely on my dear friends and you will find out who they are as I have and I am truly blessed with having such dear friends and family. It does seem though that my friends who are older than my family have a more mature outlook and are able to deal with my issues better and seem to be stronger for support  . They did try to put me on the anti-estrogen drugs but it did put me into basically had immediate depression with anxiety so they did stop that, I do have some concern for that but the mood was so horrible and intolerable. I did go on Trintelex and anti-depressant and clonazepam for the anxiety and this has helped. All of my cancer journey has been without my husband who died 2 1/2 years ago and to me this is probably been even worse than the cancer diagnosis. We could only take one day at a time and take a positive outlook and rely on our friends and family and keep ourselves busy. I must say when I look in the mirror and see myself no longer with waist length hair but with gray spiky points I see a new woman and sometimes I don’t recognize her but I know I’m in there somewhere. Keep hanging in there