Development of an instrument to identify symptoms potentially indicative of ovarian cancer in a primary care clinic setting


Background: Several recently published studies suggest that screening for symptoms could improve the early diagnosis of ovarian cancer. This report describes the development of a simple and reliable method of collecting symptom information in a primary care clinic. Methods: 1200 women, ages 40 - 87, completed several versions of a draft symptom index (SI) assessment form during their visits to a primary care clinic. Factors associated with a positive SI result were examined. Providers were surveyed about acceptability of the symptom screening procedures. Findings: Variation in the instructions provided to women influenced the rate at which women indicated having symptoms indicative of a positive SI, 5% had positive results when written instructions emphasized listing only current symptoms. Women coming to the clinic because of a current medical concern or problem did have higher rates of positive SI results, as did non-white women (p < 0.05). Acceptability by providers was high. Patients could independently complete the SI in under 5 minutes. One patient with a positive SI was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and none with a negative SI developed cancer. Interpretation: A quick paper and pencil form can be used to identify women with symptoms potentially indicative of ovarian cancer. Use of such a form for ovarian cancer screening purposes is acceptable to most women and providers in a primary care clinic setting.

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Robyn Andersen, M. , Goff, B. and Lowe, K. (2012) Development of an instrument to identify symptoms potentially indicative of ovarian cancer in a primary care clinic setting. Open Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2, 183-191. doi: 10.4236/ojog.2012.23037.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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