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The Ovarian Cancer Email

Friday, October 29, 2010 // Uncategorized

8/5/2009 10:17:25 PM

There are several emails that I get several times a year.  One of them is about deaths due to guns and the number of deaths due to doctors.  The implication is that doctors are more dangerous than guns.  It doesn’t address doctors with guns.  OK, I don’t need to get that one again.

The other one I get at least twice a year has to do with screening for ovarian cancer.  It’s fairly lengthy and was the subject of a Wall Street Journal article.  I will address my thoughts and present recent recommendations on ovarian cancer screening in the next blog.  Thanks to Carla who sent this to me.

SIGNS OF OVARIAN CANCER

(Even In The Absence Of Ovaries)

An Eye-Opener On Ovarian Cancer

THIS IS A MUST TO READ TO THE END

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.

Years ago, 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.

Kathy’s 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.

Both types 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.

Having gone 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?

These are just SOME of the things our Doctors never tell us: ONE out
of every 55 women will get OVARIAN or PRIMARY PERITONEAL CANCER.

The ‘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
tests

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.’

The CT-Scan showed a lot of fluid in my abdomen (NOT normal).
Needless to say, I had to cancel my trip and have FIVE POUNDS of fluid
drawn off at the hospital (not a pleasant experience I assure you),
but NOTHING compared to what was ahead of me.

Tests revealed cancer cells in the f luid. 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, 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.

Be fore warned 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!

The normal 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.

Having the 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.

And forward 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. A ge is no factor.

A NOTE FROM THE RN:

Well , after 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 do ubted 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. I explained
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.

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