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Why early detection of ovarian cancer is challenging

Women in Florida may want to make themselves aware of some important facts about ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed too late because its symptoms are often confused with conditions that are less serious.

Worldwide, approximately 250,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. About 140,000 die from the disease annually. In its early stages, when the cancer has not spread beyond the ovaries, it is very treatable. However, the symptoms can be thought of as minor problems that many women ignore. Symptoms include back pain, more frequent urination, bloating and indigestion.

Women may think they are being tested for ovarian cancer when they have pap smears, but pap tests only test for cervical cancer. There are currently no reliable screening tests for ovarian cancer although research in this area continues. Experts say that a woman who suspects she is experiencing symptoms of ovarian cancer should tell her doctor.

All women are at risk for ovarian cancer, but the risk can be lowered by eating a healthy diet that is low in fat. Women who have given birth, use birth control or have had a tubal ligation or surgery to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes are also at lower risk. Higher risk of ovarian cancer is linked to infertility, obesity, having had cancer in the past or being over 70 years of age.

Misdiagnosis of a disease may be a case of malpractice under certain circumstances. In the absence of a reliable screening test for ovarian cancer, a misdiagnosis of this disease might be difficult to prove as a case of medical malpractice. Generally, doctor error is considered to be malpractice if the doctor deviated from the standard of care, which is the action his or her peers would likely have taken in the same circumstances.

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