Thursday, January 7, 2010
Medical Reports: Ovarian Cancer
Every year, more than 20-thousand women find out they have ovarian cancer. For many it's a deadly diagnosis, but unlike other cancers, doctors say yearly screening for ovarian cancer may do more harm than good. 7s Diana Diaz has the story in tonight's Healthcast.
WSVN -- Amy Brannock's a musician, an artist and a two-time ovarian cancer survivor.
Amy Brannock: "I actually went to the emergency room thinking I had appendicitis, and that was when they did a CT scan and found a tumor."
She had a hysterectomy and went through chemo. Finally, the standard blood test for ovarian cancer CA-125 determined she beat it.
Amy Brannock: "So, I thought, 'OK, we've got it treated. I'm good to go."
For three years, Amy went on with her life thinking she was cancer-free, but all along the test was lying.
Dr. Daniel Clarke: "Amy's CA-125 has been normal just like any normal person."
It wasn't until she felt a lump in her neck that her doctors realized the cancer was back with a vengeance.
Typically doctors preach about yearly cancer screening, but doctor Daniel Clarke-Pearson, who just published his study in the New England Journal of Medicine says the average woman should not be tested for ovarian cancer.
Daniel Clarke-Pearson: "I say don't get tested because it leads to a lot of unnecessary surgery, and on one hand, the testing could lead to a false sense of security."
The standard blood test misses up to 50 percent of early ovarian cancers. Abnormal ultrasound readings are also incorrect up to 90 percent of the time. So all you can do is watch for symptoms, which are often vague. They include pelvic or stomach pain, bloating, feeling full soon after eating and urgent urinary frequency.
Amy Brannock: "That's what's so insidious about this particular cancer. It's so sneaky."
Amy's cancer is incurable, but with regular treatment, she's striving for many more years of music and memories.
Diana Diaz: "Doctors say there is a small section of the population who should be screened. This includes women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer."