Healthy Living

Are There Routine Checks for Ovarian Cancer?

Are There Routine Checks for Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian cancer is the most common cause of death among gynecologic types of cancer. The most common risk factors for ovarian cancer are:

  • Age
  • Genetic and family history
  • Menopausal hormone replacement therapies
  • Other gynecological health issues such as endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome

Some studies show that even the in vitro procedure may cause some form of ovarian cancer because of the big doses of hormones that women should take. However, there is no particular evidence for this.

Women who don’t have a family history of ovarian cancer are at average risk of getting this disease. There is no such a thing as low risk or no risk at all because every woman in the world has some risk to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. For those women who are at high risk, they should visit their gynecologists more often, so the eventual changes of the ovarian tissues can be seen on time.

The following are the risk factors for women with average/general ovarian cancer risk:
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • History of assisted reproductive therapies (IVF or insemination)
  • History of endometriosis
  • Hormone replacement therapies during menopause
For women with high or increased ovarian cancer risk:
  • A first-degree female relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with ovarian cancer
  • A personal history of breast cancer
  • Two or more close relatives with breast cancer
  • Family or personal history of colon cancer
  • Presence of BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations

There are no special tests or everyday routine tests that may suggest that something is wrong. Every woman in the world has some risks of getting ovarian cancer. Women should have an ultrasound screening once or twice a year as the recommended prevention of any gynecologic disease. Women with increased or inherited risk should do their regular gynecologic examinations, CA-125 tests, and genetic tests for eventual mutations. If the levels of CA-125 are increased, there is a great possibility for ovarian cancer, but sometimes CA-125 can be increased in cases of pregnancy, endometriosis, pelvic infections, and fibroids.

Ultrasound Scans

These scans can be abdominal or transvaginal and it is usually done by a gynecologist. They particularly check if the ovaries and womb have the right size and texture. Moreover, cysts can be seen during this procedure. The gynecologist may suggest the patient to do more tests and scans if there is any suspicion that there can be ovarian cancer. If there is a suspicious size or form of the ovaries or cysts, the gynecologist will send the patient to an internist or gynecologic oncologist, to do some tests such as biopsy of the tissues or blood tumor markers. The gynecologic oncologist will decide what type of treatment is needed if the tests are positive for ovarian cancer.

CT Scans

This type of screening shows the picture of the ovaries more clearly. It is a type of X-ray scan wherein the patient drinks an X-ray contrast liquid before the scan. Because there is no particular test or routine check that will show the right results immediately, sometimes, the patients need to go through all the possible tests (blood tests, genetic tests, ultrasound screening, and CT scan) until the diagnosis is finally made. All the patient can do is to observe the symptoms and to call their gynecologist immediately if they see any changes that are not normal for them.