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Why is ovarian cancer called the silent killer?

David A. Fishman, MD
Gynecologic Oncology
Ovarian cancer has been dubbed a silent killer due to the fact that it has been thought to be relatively asymptomatic until the later stages. In fact approximately 75% of women are diagnosed with advanced stage disease. Efforts to find early, specific and sensitive symptoms in the screening of ovarian cancer have been met with varying results. Some researchers have concluded that a statistically reliable constellation of symptoms to detect ovarian cancer as early stage disease has been difficult due to the low prevalence. Other studies have shown that symptoms are present but are largely ignored by the patient or healthcare provider. This may be due in part to the nonspecific nature of the symptoms.

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