How can Ovarian Cancer be Prevented?
What are the Risk Factors?
What Screening Tests are Available?
Screening involves looking for signs of cancer in a healthy individual who has no obvious symptoms and who has no physical findings which are suggestive of cancer.
CA-125, a tumor marker, is a protein that is shed from damaged
ovary cells. It is found in the blood and urine of women with ovarian cancer,
often in elevated levels.
The downside to the CA-125 blood test is that CA-125 is can be elevated in other diseases besides ovarian cancer. Also, levels of CA-125 normally fluctuate during a woman's menstrual cycle.
This is an imaging technique that uses painless soundwaves that bounce off of tissues and check for growths inside the pelvis. By inserting an ultrasound probe into the vagina, a woman's ovaries can be easily viewed.
The problem with this ultrasound method being used to screen for ovarian cancer is that it causes women to go for unnescessary procedures. This is because no single specific and effective method exists for detection of ovarian cancer.
A computer linked to an X-ray machine creates a series of
detailed pictures of areas inside the body.
During the bi-manual portion of the exam, the physician
can usually feel the ovaries, and if any abnormalities are felt, further testing
can be done.
The limitation to the pelvic exam is that the early, most curable forms of ovarian cancer are often not noticed. It is designed to find cervical cancer, like the mammogram is used to find breast cancer.
This is the only 100 percent accurate method for screening for ovarian cancer. By examining the ovaries during surgery and taking biopsies of any suspicious-looking tissue, it can be determined if there are malignancies. If ovarian cancer is found, staging will occur during the operation.