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 Post subject: Blood test for ovarian cancer: Should you have it?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:41 pm 
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Blood test for ovarian cancer: Should you have it?

By Julie Dean Kessler | Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2011 12:00 am | Loading…

If you've heard of a blood test to detect ovarian cancer, you may want to learn more before asking for the test, called CA 125. There's another test that's more accurate, says Dr. Lovera Wolf Miller, a Michigan City-based specialist in obstetrics and gynecology and co-author (with Dr. David C. Miller) of Womenopause—Stop Pausing and Start Living.
"The number one most important diagnostic test for ovarian cancer is the transvaginal ultrasound," Miller says.

Ovarian cancer is not usually detected early, since the symptoms are vague: they may include a feeling of fullness, bloating, gas and discomfort; pelvic pain occurs in later stages. Consequently, Miller says, only 20 percent of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed early; 80 percent of diagnosed ovarian cancers are advanced.

With early detection, there is a 90-percent, five-year survival rate; advanced ovarian cancer survival rate drops to 30 percent.

Then why not routinely have the CA 125 blood test?

"The CA 125 is less reliable; it can show positive when you have no cancer," Miller says, and can show positive when it's actually other conditions—endometriosis, lupus, fibroids and bowel disease.

The CA 125 can serve as a better indicator after menopause, when "any elevation above 35 in a post-menopausal woman is significant," Miller says, and the test is likely to be right 90 percent of the time. Also, if a CA 125 elevates with time, it's more likely to indicate a malignancy. If a patient wants a CA 125, "I certainly do that—but also a transvaginal ultrasound," Miller says.

A family doctor can explain a woman's risk factors for ovarian cancer, Miller says. Among factors for lower risk are:

• Eating colorful fruits and vegetables

• Exercising four times a week

• Having children

• Taking birth control pills

"It's important to know that deaths from ovarian cancer are a small number compared to breast cancer and heart disease," Miller says. "And there are improved outcomes today, because of improved surgery, and being under the care of an experienced gynecologist and oncologist."

Copyright 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in Health-care on Thursday, October 27, 2011 12:00 am

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