Ovarian cancer us not easy to detect in the early stages. Often the symptoms of ovarian cancer are easily mistaken for other conditions and unfortunately most cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed only in the advanced stages. Ovarian cancer is normally observed in women over 40 years. Women who have had endometriosis or undergone infertility treatment such as stimulation of the ovaries are at higher risk of ovarian cancer. Women who have given birth to 2-3 children reduce their risk of developing ovarian cancer as also those who have opted for tubal litigation. A woman who has used oral contraceptives has reduced chances of cancer of the ovaries.
A woman suffering from ovarian cancer is likely to suffer from pelvic discomfort and abdominal pressure and bloating. There is increased need to urinate and unexplained change in bowel habits. The other symptoms associated with ovarian cancer are unexplained weight gain or loss and unusual fatigue. Since most of these symptoms are vague, often ovarian cancer is not detected in the early stages. A patient may feel pain during sexual intercourse and urination.
A gynecologist will conduct a recto vaginal pelvic examination of the patient to trace any irregularity in the shape or size of the ovary. If ovarian cysts or tumors above a specific size are noticed, they are usually removed or a biopsy is conducted for better diagnosis. Trans vaginal sonography helps in detecting ovarian irregularities. It can help in locating the site of the tumor. Blood test CA-125 is also helpful in diagnosing ovarian tumor. Women suffering from ovarian cancer tend to have elevated levels of CA125 in their blood. 'Ovarian Pap Test' consists of a smear of the cells from the ovarian surface that is tested for any abnormalities. Surgery is almost always the first treatment ovarian cancer. Both the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus are removed.
CA 125 blood test
CA 125 blood test measures the level of blood antigens that are considered tumor markers. Typically the CA 125 blood test is used monitor the progress of ovarian cancer. But the CA 125 blood test is not considered a very accurate diagnostic tool. This test is used in combination with trans vaginal ultrasound and pelvic examination. CA 125 blood tests often return false positive results. Besides hardly about 50% of women with ovarian cancer have elevated levels of CA 125. CA 125 levels can be elevated due to menstruation, endometriosis, fibroids and pregnancy. The newer CA 125 blood test is said to be more accurate. This test is called CA 125 - II. Readings of above 35 U/ml are considered abnormal. CA 125 blood test is used to check the effect of treatment on women suffering from ovarian cancer. It is not used to check otherwise healthy women for ovarian cancer.
BRAC analysis is a diagnostic test that looks at a person's predisposition to cancer. BRAC1 and BRAC2 are genes that are tested for possible mutations to suggest cancer predisposition. Women who are likely to have hereditary breast cancer or ovarian cancer can take this test. So also people with hereditary colorectal polyps and hereditary melanoma can take the BRAC analysis test.
Bibliography / Reference
Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: February 21, 2019