As the fourth leading cause of death among women, ovarian cancer is a health complication that must be diagnosed early in order to improve survival rates. For women affected with ovarian cancer, the survival rate is nearly 90 percent when diagnosed in the very early stages.
With diagnostic screening and assessment for ovarian cancer still very difficult, it is estimated that the majority of women who are diagnosed with the complication will not receive that diagnosis during the early and localized phase. For this reason, when diagnosis of ovarian cancer it made, it is important to support a woman’s health with not only the physical and medical requirements, but also the emotional and psychological support.
For many women, the greatest distress in screening and detecting ovarian cancer is not necessarily with the diagnosis but, instead, the uncertainty that comes with ovarian cancer screening. With an ovarian cancer screening tests performed as a combination of transvaginal sonogram and CA-125 serum biopsy screening, it is not uncommon for women to receive a false-positive test result. When early ovarian cancer screening tests are positive, and due to the abnormally high risk for false-positive results, subsequent screening tests are done to confirm the presence of ovarian cancer.
Unfortunately, for women who are in the midst of a subsequent screening test result there is a greater risk for complications associated with distress, depression and anxiety. Many relate it to the concept of the “fear of the unknown”; simply not knowing if they have ovarian cancer is believed to be worse than confirming the diagnosis and moving ahead with treatment.
If you are a woman who has received a positive ovarian cancer screening, and you are awaiting the many weeks and months for the results of subsequent screening, it is important to understand your feelings of distress are quite normal. As a result, you should expect that your healthcare professional will make a referral to a mental health professional that can assist you with management of your anxiety and distress while the test results are pending.
Without regard to the final outcome of the ovarian cancer screening tests, you may find that the mental health specialist will be required even after the final test results are known. For women who are confirmed with cancer, the mental health services can work with you while you pursue chemotherapy. For women who are not confirmed with ovarian cancer, the recovery from distress may still require the services of a mental health professional.
As with any potential life threatening complication, it is important to seek early intervention and diagnosis. Being mindful that many ovarian cancer screening tests produce false-positive results, you should focus on your normal daily routines while you await the subsequent test results to be returned. While this may take many months, it is normal to feel anxious and distress at times and, as a result, you should seek mental health services from a therapist who is well versed in managing the psychological effects of women who are battling cancer.