Ovarian Cancer Screening
Ovarian cancer is the 5th most common cancer in women. It is not known what the exact cause of cancer of the ovaries is but family history and your age can increase the risk.
There is currently no recognised screening programme for ovarian cancer and the symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and can be put down to other less serious conditions but what is known for sure is that the earlier a diagnosis is made, the better.
Symptoms such as:
• Pain in the lower abdomen or side
• Bloated, full feeling in the abdomen
• Irregular periods or vaginal bleeding after menopause
• Back pain
• Passing urine more often than usual
• Pain during sex
• Feeling of fullness or loss of appetite
Can be due to non-serious conditions, should always be investigated.
An ultrasound scan and a blood test (CA125) are the recommended first lines of investigation for women with symptoms such as those listed above.
The CA125 blood test is not a totally reliable test for ovarian cancer because some non-cancerous conditions also produce CA125 (endometriosis, fibroids, pregnancy and pelvic inflammatory disease for example). In early stage ovarian cancer, only about half of cases will have raised CA125 but in advanced stage ovarian cancer, almost all will have raised CA125 levels.
Ovarian cancer can affect women of any age but it is more common in older women.