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Editorial
August 26, 1998

Searching for a Biomarker for Ovarian Cancer

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif.

JAMA. 1998;280(8):739. doi:10.1001/jama.280.8.739

This year 25400 women will be told that they have ovarian cancer. Over the next 3 to 5 years 14500 of them will die from their disease.1 Although these statistics are disturbing, they do not provide a complete image of what this truly means in terms of human suffering. Most of these women will undergo several major surgeries, multiple courses of chemotherapy treatment with their associated toxic effects, and several bouts of bowel dysfunction. They also will endure the psychological trauma of battling cancer before they die of their disease. In nearly every case, this morbidity and mortality are the result of a late diagnosis, with more than 50% of these women already having advanced to stage III or IV at the first physical signs of disease. An estimated 90% of these women (at least 13100) might be spared all of this, with no change in conventional therapy, if only their diagnoses could be made at an early preclinical stage.

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