Detecting ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is serious and responsible for many deaths because it is often only diagnosed at an advanced stage. This is because it presents no symptoms.

It would be an advantage therefore to have a detection test that allows earlier cancer stage detection and so improve health outcomes. 

Nevertheless this cancer is rare and although this is lucky in itself, no detection test is well suited to this type of cancer. Neither endovaginal ultrasound, nor ovary markers (like CA125) are specific enough. In fact there are too many positive tests resulting in unnecessary surgery, for what is in the end, very few real diagnosed cancers.

One situation deserves highlighting and that is those patients who have a high risk of ovarian cancer such as: those who carry a mutation of the gene BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 and those who have a family history of Lynch disease (which links cancer of the colon, the uterus the stomach and the ovaries).

In these cases one can suggest close monitoring and perhaps even prophylactic annexectomy (removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes). This type of decision is only taken after full discussions between the ICM team and the patient.

These patients with family histories of cancer require oncogenetic specialist experience so that the appropriate risks are calculated for each individual case.

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