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Gynecol Oncol. 2001 Dec;83(3):466-71.

Types and duration of symptoms prior to diagnosis of invasive or borderline ovarian tumor.

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  • 1Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.



The objective was to describe and compare types and duration of symptoms among women with invasive versus borderline ovarian tumors.


Cases were women, ages 20-69 years, diagnosed with invasive (616) and borderline (151) epithelial ovarian tumors from 1994 to 1998. Symptoms were obtained using a standardized in-person interview. Differences in types and duration of symptoms, time to diagnosis after consulting a physician, and primary reason for diagnosis by invasive/borderline status and histologic type were determined using bivariate and regression analyses controlling for age.


Borderline and invasive cases reported similar types of symptoms. However, borderline cases were twice as likely to report not having had symptoms as invasive cases (16 vs 8%, P = 0.005). Prediagnostic symptom duration was longer among borderline versus invasive cases (median: 6 vs 4 months, P < 0.001). The median time from first consultation with a physician to diagnosis (1 month) did not differ by invasive/borderline status. Borderline cases were twice as likely to be diagnosed through routine examination as invasive cases (28 vs 16%, P = 0.001). Invasive cases were more likely to be diagnosed because of symptoms (62 vs 48%, P = 0.002).


Because most (90%) women with ovarian tumors have symptoms and median symptom duration is 4 months, greater awareness of symptoms by women and physicians is needed for the earlier detection of ovarian tumors. The lesser likelihood of being detected by routine examination and the shorter symptom duration for invasive versus borderline cases underscores the need for effective screening and preventive strategies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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