5 Sep 2011

Ovarian Cancer Prevention and Detection

So far this month, we've dealt with Ovarian Cancer Signs and Symptoms, the Types of OvCa and now we'll talk about Prevention and Detection.

Sadly, there is no such thing as ovarian cancer prevention.  Even the removal of your ovaries and fallopian tubes does not rule out the pre-existence of cancer cells in your body.   No 100% accurate blood test exists and once again, a Pap smear doesn't help

So what can you do?  In the case of women who have first degree relatives - sister, mother - who carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 defective genes, heightened surveillance is the operative phrase.  These women should have a trans-vaginal ultrasound yearly along with a CA125 blood test.  A trans-vaginal ultrasound can indicate suspicious growths.  The radiologist is also able to administer a dye which will give him/her three minutes to view your vascular network.  Cancerous ovarian tumours tend to have blood vessels which flow more slowly than your regular blood supply.  This is not conclusive, but can lead to other more invasive tests.

Relatives of sporadic ovarian cancer patients have a normal statistical chance of getting the disease.  Ovarian cancer is the most lethal of all gynecological cancers but is still considered rare.

Conclusive detection of ovarian cancer requires a combination of radiology - usually a CT scan, blood tests and ultimately surgery.  The diagnosis cannot be complete without a tumour sample.

Some interesting but unproven generalities float around about who does and does not have a higher chance of developing ovarian cancer... some of the preventative adages include:
  • women who have taken birth control pills for more than 5 years
  • women who have had 2 or more children
The foregoing is suggesting hyper-ovulation as a cause.  As well,  the prolonged use of talcum powder in the genital area, smoking, and obesity have been suggested as  causes. 
Stronger genetic predispositions have been found in the Ashkenazi-Jewish community as well as in African American women.

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