Currently there is no real screening process to spot ovarian cancer, aside from a few symptom checks. However these are imperfect, and so doctors recommend that women at high risk, for example those who have a history of it in their family, have an operation early on to remove their ovaries and fallopian tubes.
But, undergoing this operation obviously stops a woman being able to conceive a child. Added to that no surgery is risk free, despite how routine it may be.
However, a trial has been conducted recently in which 4,348 woman undertook regular blood tests to look for signifiers that they may develop the disease. The trials monitored a chemical called CA125 found in the women’s blood.
Raised levels of CA125 can be signifiers of cancer. So women on the trial were tested 3 times a year and had their levels measured. During the trial 19 cases of ovarian cancer were detected, 10 of which were caught in the very early stages. In the 5 years after the trial another 18 were found, but only 1 was at the early stage.
As is the case with all cancers, the earlier the detection the better the chances of survival for the patient.
Even though regular screening is the best way of detecting the cancer, the best option when it is detected is still surgery. However the screening buys women more accurate time. If they wanted to start a family for example, they would have more time before undergoing the surgery, if they undertook regular screening.
Until such a time that regular screening is put in place it is still recommended that women are constantly aware of the potential symptoms which signify ovarian cancer. These include:
- Feeling constantly bloated
- A swollen stomach
- Discomfort in the stomach or pelvic area
- Feeling full quickly when eating, or loss of appetite
- Needing to urinate more often or more urgently than normal
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