With most cancers, patients get at least a few heads up that something’s going on in their bodies that just isn’t right. They may feel extremely tired, nauseated, etc.
But when ovarian cancer strikes a woman, most of the time she’s doesn’t suspect anything is wrong. The frightening reality about ovarian cancer is that you can feel perfectly well, yet have it rapidly growing inside of you. In fact, ovarian cancer been called the “silent killer.”
That was the case when my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer about eleven years. At age 74, she was taken by total surprise, as she said she felt good–It’s when she just went in for her annual physical and Pap smear that her gynecologist detected trouble.
She immediately underwent a total hysterectomy where more cancer was found. But, thankfully the surgeon got to her to it just in time, as she was between stage 2 and 3 of the disease. Following her hysterectomy, she endured six rounds of chemotherapy. At age 74, she claims the chemo almost killed her more than the cancer. Yet, she’s grateful she had the treatments, as she’s been cancer free now for the past ten years.
Because I’m her daughter, my gynecologist also takes special steps to make sure I’m okay each year when I go for my yearly physical. Besides my annual pap smear, I also take other measures to look for any signs of cysts, tumors, etc.
If you have a mother or sister who has or has had ovarian cancer, be sure to ask for the other tests (besides your annual Pap smear) if your gynecologist doesn’t mention them. Inquire about…
*A transvaginal ultrasound – This is a radiological procedure that takes pictures of the ovaries (or an ultrasound of the pelvic area.) By getting this procedure done, a woman can find even very small tumors in the forms of lumps, bumps, cysts, and growth. I’ve had two of them done, myself, and can testify that it’s painless. The only discomfort is all the water you have to drink (as well as keep it inside your bladder before the procedure.) You feel like you’re gonna explode, but it’s well worth it for the peace of mind. .
* There is also another test my doctor told me about, which I have yet to take, called a CA-125 blood test. This measures the amount of CA-125 in the blood. CA-125 is a protein which is increased in a lot of women who have ovarian cancer. But, it’s also true that some non-cancerous diseases of the ovaries can also increase the blood levels of CA-125. In other words, some ovarian cancers may not produce enough CA-125 to cause a positive test.
There may be other tests that available as well as these. Don’t be shy to inquire of all possible tests to keep you free from ovarian cancer.
If any of your tests come out positive, your gynecologist may suggest doing more X-ray studies as well as taking samples of fluid from the abdomen or tissue from the ovaries. This would determine if any cancer is actually there. However, studies imply that it’s not imperative, as CA-125 has been known to produce both false negatives and false positives.
Follow these tests, as well as make sure your get your annual Pap smear, and you’ll decrease your chances of getting ovarian cancer. Take the time to take care of yourself. You’re worth it!