How Medical Second Opinions Can Improve Ovarian Cancer Prognoses
May 8th is International World Ovarian Cancer Day. Annually, leading ovarian cancer advocacy organizations collectively known as the World Ovarian Cancer Coalition come together to raise global awareness about one of the most serious of the female cancers. According to the coalition, most women worldwide have little or no knowledge about the ovarian cancer risks, symptoms and the dangers it poses to them.
Ovarian cancer screening challenges
Ovarian cancer is a collective term for numerous types of cancer of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the thin inner lining of the abdomen. Currently, only about 20% of ovarian cancer is found at an early stage. One of the reasons for this is that ovarian cancer is difficult to screen. Internationally, the screening options available are limited and provided largely only to women who are considered at a higher risk. Higher risk women include those who have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancers or a known genetic predisposition such as Lynch syndrome or BRCA gene mutations.
Correct diagnosis and treatment
The rest of the global female population is reliant on being aware of ovarian cancer symptoms, which often either present as something less serious or do not present at all until the cancer has advanced. This makes proper diagnosis, staging, and treatment vital for improving long-term prognoses.
Recent case studies
Two members, women in their early 40s, both living in Europe, are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Both women are in excellent health otherwise, with no family or personal cancer history. Both present to their respective treating physicians with similar symptoms. Prior to biopsy and ultrasound, both are believed to have ovarian cysts. Wanting clearer answers and the best possible prognosis, they reach out to MediGuide (our medical second opinion partners) for a second opinion.
The first case is reviewed at MassGeneral Brigham Hospital, a Harvard University teaching medical center. After a thorough review by a team of specialists, based on the member’s young age and otherwise excellent state of health, the recommendation is that adjuvant chemotherapy should be added to her postoperative course of treatment. The intent is to improve her 5-year estimated survival and long-term prognosis.
The second case is reviewed at University of California at the Los Angeles Medical Center (UCLA). Similar to the first case, a team of specialists recommend extending the post-operative adjuvant chemotherapy from 3 cycles to 6. Again, the intent being to improve the overall prognosis.
One of the two diagnoses is considered rare, accounting for 5 out of every 100 ovarian cancer diagnoses. For this case, the team at Harvard recommends 5 medical centers within the European Union (EU) that specialize in this type of rare cancer for follow-up care and testing, as the member might not have access to this level of expertise at a local hospital.
Important next steps
If you have a family history of ovarian or breast cancers, speak to your physician to find out if you or your family members are candidates for genetic testing. You should also speak to your physician if you persistently present with any of the following signs and symptoms, even though they commonly mimic a variety of other, often less serious, medical conditions:
Changes in bowel habits
Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
Pain in the pelvis or abdominal area
Unexplained weight loss
Urinary issues such as frequent or urgent urination
Likewise, even if, having presented with these symptoms, having consulted with your physician and having received an ovarian cancer diagnoses, any other cancer, or any other medical condition for that matter, reach out to MediGuide as soon as possible.
How to access your MSO benefit
MediGuide has assisted with many ovarian cancer cases reviewing medical records, retesting pathologies, and rereading imaging to ensure that your diagnosis is correct and that all treatment options are considered.