Common Early-Warning Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer Identified in CDC/Thomson Healthcare Study

Tuesday, October 9, 2007 General News
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ANN ARBOR, Mich., Oct. 8 In a study published inthe Journal of Women's Health, researchers from the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention and Thomson Healthcare (NYSE: TOC; TSK: TOC) found adistinct pattern of medical signs and symptoms that occurred prior to thedetection of ovarian cancer.

According to the study, the conditions patients experienced before anovarian cancer diagnosis included abdominal pain, urinary tract conditions,menopausal disorders, female genital symptoms, and gastrointestinal symptoms.These symptoms were most pronounced in the 30-90 days prior to diagnosis.

To make this determination, researchers analyzed medical claims from 920patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer and tracked the symptoms those patientsexperienced prior to diagnosis. These results were compared with claims datafor 2,760 women without ovarian cancer matched on age, geographic region,Medicare eligibility, and health plan type.

Five conditions were identified as being possibly related to ovariancancer because they were reported significantly more frequently by womendiagnosed with the cancer than they were in the comparison group. While allsymptoms were reported among women with and without ovarian cancer, the rateof these symptoms was higher, and continued to increase, beginning 90 daysprior to diagnosis. Abdominal pain was most frequently linked to a subsequentovarian cancer diagnosis, with 83 percent of women in the ovarian cancer grouprecording abdominal pain within 30 days of diagnosis in contrast to fewer thantwo percent in the comparison group.

Other symptoms more frequently recorded for the ovarian cancer groupincluded female genital symptoms, which were 3.5 times more frequent, andgastrointestinal symptoms, which were 1.5 to 2 times more frequent. Urinarytract disorders and menopausal symptoms were also recorded twice as frequentlyamong the women in the ovarian cancer group.

This study found that while the presence of ovarian cancer-relatedsymptoms and conditions prior to diagnoses was documented in the medicalclaims data, this increase was most pronounced in the two to three monthsprior to diagnosis. Still, there remains a challenge to link symptoms withovarian cancer, as many of the related symptoms are also present for severalother disorders and diseases.

"Ovarian cancer is most often diagnosed at the later stages," said StellaChang, research director at Thomson Healthcare and co-author of the study."Identifying a pattern of symptoms can keep doctors one step ahead of adangerous disease. It is important to understand that these symptoms do notautomatically dictate that a woman has ovarian cancer, but recognizing themcould lead to earlier diagnosis and more treatment options to save a patient'slife."

About the Study

The study, "Temporal Patterns of Conditions and Symptoms PotentiallyAssociated with Ovarian Cancer," was conducted by the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention and Thomson Healthcare. It is published in theSeptember issue of the Journal of Women's Health (Volume 16, Number 7, pp.971-986.)

The authors are Michelle Wynn, formerly of the Centers for Disease Controland Prevention, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control; Stella Chang ofThomson Healthcare; and Lucy Peipins of the Centers for Disease Control andPrevention, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.

About Thomson Healthcare

Thomson Healthcare is the leading provider of decision support solutionsthat help organizations across the healthcare industry improve clinical andbusiness performance. Thomson Healthcare products and services helpclinicians, hospitals, employers, health plans, government agencies, andpharmaceutical companies manage the cost and improve the quality ofhealthcare. Thomson Healthcare is a part of The Thomson Corporation, aprovider of value-added information, software tools a

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