Subject: Signs of Ovarian Cancer
Opener on Ovarian Cancer
I hope you
all take the time to read this and pass it on to all you can. Send this to the
women in your life that you care about.
Gilda Radner died of ovarian cancer. Her symptoms were inconclusive, and she
was treated for everything under the sun until it was too late. This blood
test finally identified her illness but alas, too late. She wrote a book to
heighten awareness. Gene Wilder is her widower.
STORY: this is the story of Kathy West
As all of
you know, I have Primary Peritoneal Cancer. This cancer has only recently been
identified as its OWN type of cancer, but it is essentially Ovarian Cancer.
of cancer are diagnosed in the same way, with the "tumor marker" CA-125 BLOOD
TEST, and they are treated in the same way - surgery to remove the primary
tumor and then chemotherapy with Taxol and Carboplatin.
through this ordeal, I want to save others from the same fate. That is why I
am sending this message to you and hope you will print it and give it or send
it via E-mail to everybody you know.
One thing I
have learned is that each of us must take TOTAL responsibility for our own
health care. I thought I had done that because I always had an annual physical
and PAP smear, did a monthly Self-Breast Exam, went to the dentist at least
twice a year, etc. I even insisted on a sigmoidoscopy and a bone density test
last year. When I had a total hysterectomy in 1993, I thought that I did not
have to worry about getting any of the female reproductive organ cancers.
LITTLE DID I
KNOW. I don't have ovaries (and they were HEALTHY when they were removed), but
I have what is essentially ovarian cancer. Strange, isn't it?
just SOME of the things our Doctors never tell us: ONE out of every 55 women
will get OVARIAN or PRIMARY PERITONEAL CANCER.
"CLASSIC" symptoms are an ABDOMEN that rather SUDDENLY ENLARGES and
CONSTIPATION and/or DIARRHEA.
I had these
classic symptoms and went to the doctor. Because these symptoms seemed to be
"abdominal", I went to a gastroenterologist. He ran tests that were designed
to determine whether there was a bacteria infection; these tests were
negative, and I was diagnosed with "Irritable Bowel Syndrome". I guess I would
have accepted this diagnosis had it not been for my enlarged abdomen. I swear
to you, it looked like I was 4-5 months pregnant! I therefore insisted on more
They took an
X-ray of my abdomen; it was negative. I was again assured that I had Irritable
Bowel Syndrome and was encouraged to go on my scheduled month-long trip to
Europe. I couldn't wear any of my slacks or shorts because I couldn't get
them buttoned, and I KNEW something was radically wrong. I INSISTED on more
tests, and they reluctantly) scheduled me for a CT-Scan (just to shut me up, I
think). This is what I mean by "taking charge of our own health care."
showed a lot of fluid in my abdomen (NOT normal). Needless to say, I had to
cancel my trip and have FIVE POUNDS assure you), but NOTHING compared to what
was ahead of me).
revealed cancer cells in the fluid. Finally, finally, finally, the doctor ran
a CA-125 blood test, and I was properly diagnosed.
I HAD THE
CLASSIC SYMPTOMS FOR OVARIAN CANCER, AND YET THIS SIMPLE CA-125 BLOOD TEST HAD
NEVER BEEN RUN ON ME, not as part of my annual physical exam and not when I
was symptomatic. This Is an inexpensive and simple blood test!
PLEASE TELL ALL YOUR FEMALE FRIENDS AND RELATIVES TO INSIST ON A CA-125 BLOOD
TEST EVERY YEAR AS PART OF THEIR ANNUAL PHYSICAL EXAMS.
forewarned that their doctors might try to talk them out of it, saying, IT
ISN'T NECESSARY." Believe me, had I known then what I know now, we would have
caught my cancer much earlier (before it was a stage 3 cancer). Insist on the
CA-125 BLOOD TEST; DO NOT take "NO" for an answer!
range for a CA-125 BLOOD TEST is between zero and 35. MINE WAS 754. (That's
right, 754!). If the number is slightly above 35, you can have another done in
three or six months and keep a close eye on it, just as women do when they
have fibroid tumors or when men have a slightly elevated PSA test (Prostatic
Specific Antigens) that helps diagnose prostate cancer.
CA-125 test done annually can alert you early, and that's the goal in
diagnosing any type of cancer - catching it early.
Do you know
55 women? If so, at least one of them will have this VERY AGGRESSIVE cancer.
Please, go to your doctor and insist on a CA-125 test and have one EVERY YEAR
for the rest of your life.
this message to every woman you know, and tell all of your female family
members and friends. Though the median age for this cancer is 56, (and, guess
what, I'm exactly 56), women as young as 22 have it. Age is no factor.
A NOTE FROM THE RN:
reading this, I made some calls. I found that the CA-125 test is an ovarian
screening test equivalent to a man's PSA test prostate screen (which my
husband's doctor automatically gives him in his physical each year and
insurance pays for it). I called the general practitioner's office about
having the test done. The nurse had never heard of it. She told me that she
doubted that insurance would pay for it. So I called Prudential Insurance Co.,
and got the same response. Never heard of it - it won't be covered.
that it was the same as the PSA test they had paid for my husband for years.
After conferring with whomever they confer with, she told me that the CA-125
would be covered.
It is $75 in
a GP's office and $125 at the GYN's. This is a screening test that should be
required just like a PAP smear (a PAP smear cannot detect problems with your
ovaries). And you must insist that your insurance company pay for it.
and Pierce Brosnan (his wife had it, too) are lobbying for women's health
issues, saying that this test should be required in our physicals, just like
the PAP and the mammogram.
(?!) You Need To Know...