Ovarian cancer, called a “silent killer” because symptoms are often vague and similar to more benign conditions in the early stages, is often not diagnosed until it is at an advanced stage. Researchers say about 77% of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at this point.
“The signs are not clear,” says Dr. Lucy Gilbert, the principal investigator of the DOVE (Detect Ovarian Cancer Early) project at the McGill University Health Centre and a professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology and the department of oncology at McGill University.
“Women take bleeding and pain seriously, but the symptoms of ovarian cancer, such things as indigestion, bloating and urinary frequency, are very subtle and seem like common problems. These are not the things that make a woman see a doctor.”