SAN FRANCISCO--Enhanced concern by the medical community and by women themselves prompted the National Institutes of Health's Office of Medical Applications of Research to convene last year's consensus conference on ovarian cancer, Vicki Seltzer, MD, said at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
"Ovarian cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death among women, with an estimated toll of 13,600 deaths in 1994," Dr. Seltzer said. Because the disease is often diagnosed late, the death rate is high, as compared with other cancers, and this has led to considerable public interest in the disease.
"I also believe that the death of Gilda Radner, who didn't know she was at high risk for the disease and whose cancer was diagnosed late, increased women's concern about ovarian cancer," said Dr. Seltzer, professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, New Hyde Park, NY.
The consensus development conference was sponsored jointly by the National Cancer Institute and the Office of Medical Applications of Research, and these organizations outlined the issues to be debated and selected the members of the planning committee.
The committee, chaired by Dr. Seltzer, then decided which questions to pose and which experts to invite to give presentations. After 2 days of presentations and open discussion, the committee adjourned to draft a statement.
In the weeks following Gilda Radner's death, Dr. Seltzer recalled the concerns of female patients who visited her office. "Women were coming in with elevated CA 125 values, wondering where to go from there."