11:46am Thursday 04 June 2020

Ovarian cancer: early detection saves lives

MONTREAL – Screening for ovarian cancer is simple and often overlooked – but it does save lives, says Dr. Josée Dubuc-Lissoir, a gynecological oncologist at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). Early diagnosis of ovarian cancer is relatively straightforward and now more accessible to women in Anjou and the entire east end of Montreal, with the opening of a new satellite screening centre.

The team from the DOVE (Detecting Ovarian Cancer Earlier) project set up two years ago at the Royal Victoria Hospital of the MUHC, opened the satellite centre based at the Haut-Anjou medical clinic last June to reach more women in the greater Montreal area. “Looking at the map of the city we realized that the patients who were being recruited for DOVE came from the west end. To more accurately represent the city and nearby areas, we have been recruiting women from the east end of Montreal,” explains Dr. Dubuc-Lissoir, who is also the associate director of gynecologic oncology research at the MUHC.

“Our objective is to open other satellite centres, including one on the South Shore, soon,” says Dr. Dubuc-Lissoir. “Wait times are shorter and appointments can be made more quickly. Proximity is a big plus – in the past, when patients had to travel into town, many became discouraged.” In 90 per cent of cases early detection leads to successful live-saving surgery, according to Dr. Dubuc-Lissoir. 

The team at the screening centre in the Haut-Anjou clinic, comprised of an ultrasound technician and a researcher, sees patients once a week. The opening of this new service was the result of a collaboration between the DOVE team and Dr. Paul Vézina, general practitioner, at the Haut-Anjou medical clinic. 

“Since June, we’ve seen more than a hundred women – 95% of them francophones – who qualify for the DOVE project,” says Sabrina Piedimonte, coordinator of the gynecological oncology research centre, who invites all women over the age of 50 who are experiencing symptoms (listed below) to call 1-866-716-3267 to arrange a quick screening test, free of charge.   

“I think it’s such a pity that we don’t hear more about this. Ovarian cancer is a silent killer that causes far too many deaths, just because of a lack of information,” says Solange Langelier, one of the first patients seen at the Haut-Anjou centre. “That absolutely has to change!”



The DOVE project (Detecting OVarian cancer Earlier) – the only one of its kind in Canada – is aimed at discovering a method of detecting ovarian cancer at an early stage. This cancer is referred to as a “silent killer” because in its early stages its symptoms are vague and non-specific. It mimics many common benign diseases and is therefore ignored by patients and doctors alike. Since the beginning of the project in May 2008, more than 1300 women have been screened and around 20 cases of ovarian cancer and other cancers including endometrial cancers have been identified.  

For more information about DOVE: http://muhc.ca/royalvic/article/dove-project


About the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) One of the world’s foremost academic health centres, the MUHC offers exceptional and integrated patient-centric care, research and teaching. Highly committed to the continuum of care in its community and affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, the Montreal General Hospital, the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Montreal Neurological Hospital, the Montreal Chest Institute and the Lachine Hospital of the MUHC value multidisciplinary service throughout the lifespan, innovative technologies and practices, strategic partnerships and leadership in knowledge transfer. The MUHC is currently carrying out a $2.25-billion Redevelopment Project on three campuses—the Mountain, the Glen and Lachine—designed to provide healthcare professionals with an effective environment in which to ensure patients and their families benefit from The Best Care for Life.  The campuses are also anchored in best sustainable-development practices, including LEED® and BOMA BESt guidelines.

www.muhc.ca     www.muhc.ca/construction


Women’s Health Symptom Inventory

Please check off any of the symptoms that you may have experienced for more than 2 weeks but less than 1 year:

  • Feeling full or stuffed after eating even only a few bites, or food feels stuck, or loss of appetite.
  • Nausea, vomiting, heartburn, gas, burping, indigestion.
  • Diarrhoea, constipation, bowel or rectum feels full, change in bowel habits, constant urge to have a bowel movement, painful or burning bowel movements, rectal pain, painful defecation.
  • Need to urinate more often or need to urinate urgently, pressure on the bladder, or leaking urine, burning sensation when urinating, need to urinate but nothing there, can’t empty bladder completely, feeling full after urinating.
  • Bloating, distension, enlargement or thickening of abdomen or stomach area, or clothes around the waist feel too tight, or notice an abdominal mass.
  • Vaginal discharge, bleeding, spotting, or deep pain on intercourse.
  • Weight-loss not due to dieting.
  • Discomfort or pain in abdomen, or pelvic region, or lower back.

If you are over 50 years old and have any of the above group of symptoms, please call us at 1-866-716-3267 to schedule an appointment for ovarian cancer diagnostic testing of your symptom(s).

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