Incontinence May Be a Sign of Ovarian Cancer

Published Online: Tuesday, February 1, 2005
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Women with urinary incontinence and abdominal cramping may need to worry about cancer. Both are early signs of ovarian cancer, and, even if isolated or chronic, these "abdominal" problems warrant a pelvic exam to rule out cancer, according to a study recently reported in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. For the study, the researchers reviewed medical records for 107 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The results of the study found:

?18% of the women had urinary symptoms (ie, incontinence) that proceeded to get worse over 2 or 3 weeks. "Incontinence usually happens gradually over several years, not that quickly," noted lead researcher Barbara P. Yawn, MD.

? 22% of the women experienced abdominal pain that lasted for longer than 2 weeks, not associated with diarrhea or vomiting.

?10% of the women had spotting, unusual among women over age 40. "Usually by then things have settled down quite a bit," explained Dr. Yawn.

Diagnosing and treating ovarian cancer in the early stages is crucial to survival. "The message for women is, if you have vague symptoms that last more than 2 weeks, if you are over 40, get it checked?then be persistent. Do not quit until you have a definite diagnosis," stressed Dr. Yawn.



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