Objectives: To investigate and analyze the process from first recognition of symptom(s) to final diagnosis at operation in patients with ovarian epithelial cancer.
Method: The medical records of 160 women with ovarian cancer were studied and traced back to the doctor first consulted, in order to obtain information on patient- and doctor-related delay.
Results: Symptom duration was 12 weeks in patients with serous tumors and 7 weeks in patients with other histopathological classes; 56% were diagnosed within 4 weeks. Women in stages I and II were diagnosed faster than those in stages III and IV; 4% were diagnosed within 3 days because of an emergency operation; 30% were not diagnosed within 8 weeks.
Conclusion: Diagnosis of ovarian cancer is difficult due to the vagueness of the symptoms which mislead both patients and doctors. Methods to enable earlier diagnosis must be sought.