Ovarian Cancer Testing Discussed

Ovarian cancer is very deadly. Almost 3/4 women ever diagnosed has advance disease which has a 5 year survival rate of only 20%. But like other diseases if we can diagnose early , the survival rate is almost 90%. Any testing that helps that diagnosis is very important. Abbott Diagnostics and Fujirebio Diagnostics, Inc just got good news from the FDA: clearance of their blood test for ovarian cancer. The test, discussed in an earlier blog entry  is a chemical process to detect extremely small particles from the blood stream that may have been shed from the surface of an ovary, and more likely from an ovary with an ovarian cancer. This new test is testing for Architect human epididymis protein 4 [HE4]. Only 8 of 10 ovarian cancers express CA 125. More are thought to express HE4.One area of interest is whether a woman who previously underwent fertility treatment should be more intensely screened for ovarian cancer than just her yearly pap smears. One study done Whittemore and researchers reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology that there was an association of ovulation inducing medications and ovarian cancer. This has then been looked at again, but follow up of these women has been difficult. Even though some studies followed women for up to 15 years, that still left the women far younger than many women who get ovarian cancer. There was slight risk, but most risk would be countered by getting pregnant or using birth control pills and thus the magnitude of risk is still thought to be so slight that just getting the normal screening in a low risk patient (pap smears and pelvic exams). For those with family history more may be indicated.  Anything we can do to try to find ovarian cancers when they are at the earliest stages is extremely important. The survival rate of women with early stage ovarian cancer is over 95%, so you have both a better chance of survival and a better chance of keeping your ovaries when you do get treated in an earlier stage.


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