The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance has dedicated September as National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Ovarian cancer is the deadliness of gynecological cancers, and early detection is relatively rare. Only 20% of women diagnosed catch the disease in the early stages.

The most common symptoms include, bloating, feeling full after eating less than normal, fatigue and constipation – but these symptoms can also be attributed to various other conditions as well, including menopause. In most cases diagnosis are made in women who are over 40 and either near or past menopause. About half of diagnosis are made after the age of 63, but ovarian cancer is possible long before that.

Most women don’t like to give serious thought to the possibility, and often neither do their doctors.

A lack of early diagnosis

Although early diagnosis is not very common, many doctors appear to be overconfident when it comes to their ability to diagnose ovarian cancer quickly and correctly. The National Coalition on Healthcare conducted a survey of 400 participants in 2013, and the majority believed that less than 10% of patients were misdiagnosed, however other research suggests that misdiagnosis occurs up to 28% of the time.

The reasons for misdiagnosis range from physician overconfidence, complacency, not enough time with patients, unreliable tools and poor informational systems. Regardless of the reason, delaying a diagnosis can be bad news for the patient.

Consider the possibility

The American Cancer Society is making an effort to encourage women and their doctors to consider the possibility of ovarian cancer, even before menopause. They estimate that in 2016 more than 22,000 women will be diagnosed with the disease, and more than 14,000 will die. Overall, 1 in 75 women are expected to get ovarian cancer in their lifetime, and the majority of those are expected to die from the disease.

As with most cancers, there are actions that increase the risk, such as having a baby after 35, being obese and taking hormone therapies. A healthy diet, surgeries such as hysterectomies or tubal ligations, and taking birth control pills may reduce the risk.

Encourage your doctor and contact an attorney

If you are experiencing symptoms that might be ovarian cancer, it is important to encourage your doctor to investigate the possibility further. If you have complained of these types of symptoms and discovered you had ovarian cancer after a delayed diagnosis, it is possible you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Contact an attorney to discuss your case, and see what can be done to help you and your family.