Friday, August 12, 2011

The Importance of Testing for Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is known as the silent killer because it is not usually caught at an early stage, as was true with my mother.  It is something that you must be vigilant about if you have any of the signs or symptoms of Ovarian cancer.  You must also be vigilant if you have a family history of either breast cancer or ovarian cancer, as there is an increased risk of you having the disease.

Earlier I talked about the warning signs of Ovarian cancer:
Persistent indigestion, gas or nausea
Loss of appetite or feeling full quickly
Pelvic discomfort or pain
Lack of energy
Abdominal pressure, fullness or bloating
Constipation and/or increased frequency of urination
Low back pain

Now I want to talk about the tests that are used to find if you are at risk for Ovarian cancer:

CA 125 is a blood test measures the amount of the protein CA 125 (cancer antigen 125) in your blood. It isn't always a reliable form of testing as it may be missed in early Ovarian Cancer detection, but for someone at high risk due to family history it may still be a good idea to have it checked.

Not all insurance companies cover the cost of this test. Talk to your doctor and insurance company about what is covered.  It can be added to any routine blood test.

Please read this link for detailed information about this test.
CA 125 Test

BRACAnalysis is a genetic test that can let you know your risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) by identifying a BRCA gene mutation.  Most insurance companies will pay for a portion of the test if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancers. My insurance company covered it completely.

My mother's oncologist did tell me that if you get a negative result on your BRACAnalysis, it may be a false negative and the test would have to be done again.  Insurance companies may not cover the second test.

Please read this link for more information.

Methods that doctors use to diagnose Ovarian cancer are:
Pelvic exam
Transvaginal ultrasound
Surgery to remove samples of tissue for testing

More information can be found on the MayoClinic website.
Ovarian Cancer Tests and Diagnosis

Overall, it is extremely important to speak up and talk to your doctor about what you are feeling.  If you have any of these symptoms, call and make an appointment.

When my mom started seeing doctors in 2008, they gave her antacids because her stomach always felt "full".  They weren't aware or didn't notice the symptom of Ovarian cancer. Finally, she saw the episode of the View that talked about Ovarian Cancer and the CA 125 test.  She called her doctor and asked for the CA 125 test and when the results came back extremely high, that is when they scheduled the transvaginal ultrasound and found all the tumors. 

One of the reasons I started this blog is so that we can raise awareness and money to help fund early detection of Ovarian Cancer.  It's only the first step in this very important journey.

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