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New app helps women track ovarian cancer symptoms

New app helps women track ovarian cancer symptoms

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance has released a free smartphone and tablet computer application to help women learn more about the risks, signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, as well as determine when to visit a doctor.

While there is no reliable early detection test for ovarian cancer, awareness of the symptoms is the best way for a woman to know whether she should be concerned and seek further medical attention.

The Ovarian Cancer Symptom Diary App guides a woman through a short list of questions about risk factors related to ovarian cancer, including family history of cancer and use of hormone replacement therapy. The program can keep track of the most common symptoms of ovarian cancer, which include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and urinary urgency and frequency.

If symptoms are felt and recorded for at least 14 days in a month, the app will send an email suggesting an appointment to be tested for ovarian cancer, which claims a woman's life every 37 minutes in the United States.

"The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often mistaken for other, less serious diseases," said Karen Kaplan, CEO of the National Alliance. "As a result, women are usually diagnosed when their disease is advanced and the odds of surviving are the lowest."

Symptoms of ovarian cancer
  • Abdominal pressure, fullness, swelling or bloating
  • Pelvic discomfort or pain
  • Persistent indigestion, gas or nausea
  • Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation
  • Changes in bladder habits, including a frequent need to urinate
  • Loss of appetite or quickly feeling full
  • Increased abdominal girth or clothes fitting tighter around your waist
  • A persistent lack of energy
  • Low back pain

  • Source: Mayo Clinic

    Kaplan said the app was designed to get more women to see a doctor as soon as symptoms exist, as ovarian cancer is the 5th-leading cause of women's cancer deaths in the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    "I know how busy women are. It is hard to take time for your health when you are working and caring for your family and home," National Alliance Board President and ovarian cancer survivor Anette Leal Mattern said in a video demonstration of the application. She said the app makes noticing and recording sometimes subtle symptoms, a lot easier.

    The app can be accessed and downloaded at

    The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance advocates for women with ovarian cancer and promotes research for the development of an early detection test, improved health care practices and life-saving treatment protocols. The major focus of the group is on educating health care professionals and the public about the risks, signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, which often go undetected for too long, Kaplan said.

    "We hope this app will encourage women to see their physicians as soon as possible if they experience symptoms that might indicate ovarian cancer," she said.

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    Wendy Leonard


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