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Woman had rare ovarian tumor that doctors insisted was a baby

Ally Hirschlag is a producer/actor/writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY and buys way too many toys for her cats. She contributes to several publications, including Bustle, and The Nerve, and enjoys writing about all things woman. In her spar...

Woman's rare form of ovarian cancer caused doctors to misdiagnose as pregnancy

Misdiagnoses happen all the time in the medical profession, but rarely are they this off. Now 27-year-old Louise Bryant had several doctors try to convince her she was pregnant when she knew she was dealing with something else entirely.

Most people and medical professionals would agree that a terrible pain is indicative of something wrong in the body. Bryant thought the same when she started experiencing sharp pains in her stomach every time she moved, along with occasional bleeding between periods. Even then, she was pretty sure she wasn't pregnant but took a pregnancy test anyway just to be sure. When it was negative, she immediately went to her doctor to discover the cause of her uncomfortable symptoms.

MoreWhat you need to know about ovarian cancer

Over the next 12 weeks, she was subjected to a series of tests by a number of doctors who had trouble diagnosing her underlying condition. However, instead of listening to their patient, who was confident she was not pregnant, they continued to push more pregnancy tests on her — seven in total — convinced the mass in her abdomen was a baby. Why several different doctors would order the same test over and over again is baffling, to say the least — I can only imagine how frustrated Bryant was taking them. She told Daily Mail, "I was 110 per cent positive that I was not pregnant, but I was repeatedly asked to do more tests."

However, she continued to pursue medical attention, and finally one of her many doctors did an ultrasound of her belly and found a large tumor — roughly 10 centimeters long — on her ovary. It was so large that it was pressing on her other organs and even made it difficult for her to breathe. According to Bryant, "The type of ovarian cancer I had is very rare and only about 60 women in the U.K. are diagnosed with it a year, so very little is known about it, and that's presumably why it took longer for the diagnosis." Or so the medical practitioners like to tell themselves. However, in this case I think they fell into the common trap of "take more tests now, ask questions later."

MoreThe truth about fertility after ovarian cancer diagnosis

The situation got a bit worse before it got better. A second scan revealed the tumor was actually more like 20 centimeters long — about the shape and size of a football — and was taking up most of her abdomen. Fortunately, in light of this development, the doctors acted quickly. They removed the tumor, one ovary and part of a fallopian tube in a grueling four-hour-long operation.

The tumor was biopsied and unfortunately found to be a stage 2 immature teratoma — a rare type of ovarian cancer. However, because they removed the entire tumor in the operation, Bryant doesn't need to have any chemotherapy or radiation treatment, but she will need to have regular blood tests to make sure the cancer doesn't return.

All in all, despite the diagnosis setback, Bryant is in remission and can still have children. Her story, however, is a good lesson in how difficult the medical community can be in the face of a challenging diagnosis. While most medical professionals wouldn't go through so many of the same test before moving on to a different tactic, similar situations happen all the time. The best thing you can do is be persistent, ask questions and do your own research on your symptoms.

More: Tampons may be able to help detect cancer

If you suspect you may have ovarian cancer, here are three main symptoms for which to watch out:

  • Increased abdominal size and persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)
  • Persistent pelvic and abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly, or feeling nauseated

Less common symptoms:

  • Pain during sex
  • Back pain
  • Frequent need to urinate
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