Ovarian Cancer Misdiagnosis

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Ovarian cancer is the seventh most common cancer and eighth most common cause of death from cancer among women. The prognosis makes it one of the most deadly cancers among others, with only a 45% five year survival rate. However, the good news is that there are many risk indicators that may give good clues as to who is more susceptible to the disease.

Like all other cancers, at its simplest form, it is a replacement of healthy, properly functioning cells with abnormal, non-functioning, mutated cells of the same type. Ovarian cancer starts inside the ovaries and has the potential to spread to the lungs, liver, and / or lymph nodes. The severity and staging of the cancer is described by the T, M, and N factors, which stand for the tumor, lymph nodes, and metastasis factors. Generally, stage 1 is limited to one of both ovaries, stage 2 has progressed to another location in the uterus or fallopian tubes, stage 3 has extended to the small intestines or beyond, and stage 4 has metastasis beyond the local area.

The prognosis varies depending on the stage of progression of the cancer. While there are four categories of each stage, the 5 year survival rates are about 85% for stage 1, 60% for stage 2, 35% for stage 3, and 15% for stage 4. It should be very clear that early diagnosis is the key to survival. Unfortunately, the detection methods are not completely reliable, but there are some clear risk factors that help in determining the susceptibility some women will show when compared to others.

Over 60% of women that are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are stage 3 or 4. This is abnormally high when compared to other forms of cancer, which makes ovarian cancer particularly dangerous.  However, there are significant risk factors that can help segregate those that are at high risk of diagnosis so there can be a significant focus on early detection. These are: older women who have never given birth, those that have a first or second degree relative that has been diagnosed, infertile women, those with endometriosis, women with postmenopausal estrogen replacement  therapy, and finally those with the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene deletion.

At early stages, there are no symptoms, but at more advanced stages, there might be bloating, abdominal pain, urinary symptoms, difficulty eating, back pain, tiredness, vaginal bleeding, weight loss, constipation.

If there are symptoms, or if there are significant risk factors present, a physical exam is typically the first step for detection. It will also come with a blood test, looking for CA-125, and an ultrasound. If there is a case for it, surgery to inspect the abdominal cavity and subsequent biopsies are also methods to detect. These are controversial, and many times lead to false positives and unnecessary surgery and treatment.

If you would like legal advice regarding any delay in diagnosis of your ovarian cancer or if you have concerns regarding the way in which your cancer of the ovaries was treated including complications arising from surgery, contact our legal team. Should you be eligible for negligence compensation, our medical negligence solicitors may provide legal presentation on No Win No Fee terms.

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