A United Kingdom (UK) Familial Ovarian Cancer Screening Study is evaluating whether regular blood tests can more effectively identify early ovarian cancer in high-risk women. The study is being conducted by multiple institutes over a long period of time.
Beginning in your ovaries- epithelial cell, germ cell and stromal ovarian cancers compromise the three types of ovarian cancer. The type of cancer is determined by the cells in which the cancer begins. Ovarian cancer, sometimes called the silent killer, is frequently not identified until symptoms appear in advanced stages. Symptoms include abdominal bloat, feeling full quickly
when eating, weight loss, pelvic pain and constipation.
When symptoms appear, a blood test for the CA 125, transvaginal ultrasound or biopsy may be used to diagnose ovarian cancer.
Blood Test Screening for CA 125
The UK study is currently evaluating whether blood test screening three times a year for women at a high-risk for ovarian cancer can help diagnose the disease earlier- thereby improving success rates for treatment. The blood test uses an algorithm to identify high levels of the the blood protein CA 125.
While the presence of CA 125 does not always indicate cancer, the blood protein is found in approximately 85% of women with ovarian cancer. While it is not recommended for women at an average risk for ovarian cancer, early screening may be beneficial to those with a family history of ovarian or breast cancer or women who carry the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene.
Studying CA 125 Screening
The long-term study has shown that women at an average risk for ovarian cancer may test positive for CA 125 without the presence of cancer, thereby resulting in unnecessary stress and medical testing.
If you are considered high risk- speak with your OBGYN. Women at a high-risk for ovarian cancer should consider having their ovaries and fallopian tubes removed when their families are complete. However, women still in the child-bearing years or who elect not to have preventive surgery may benefit from early detection screening, such as the CA 125 blood test.
Call our office to speak with your OBGYN about any concerns or questions regarding CA 125 screening.