Researchers from the University of Bristol examined the symptoms that could indicate ovarian cancer in women presenting to primary care. They then calculated the chance that a woman with a particular symptom actually had the cancer.
They found that six symptoms associated with ovarian cancer had a positive predictive value below 1%. These were: urinary frequency, abdominal pain, postmenopausal bleeding, loss of appetite, rectal bleeding, and abdominal bloating.
However, abdominal distension, which is not included in NICE referral guidelines for suspected cancer, had a positive predictive value of 2.5%.
The authors conclude that abdominal distension is ‘a common important symptom and warrants rapid investigation'.