Is There a Blood Test for Ovarian Cancer?
We hear a lot about new scientific discoveries in the fight against cancer,
and while most of the new is good news, it's also confusing. One source of
confusion is whether there is a blood test for ovarian cancer. While there
is no blood test to see if someone has any specific cancer per se, there
are blood tests which help us make a diagnosis, to follow how patients respond
to treatments, and to screen for relapses. Some of these tests are useful to
screen women at very high risk for cancer, but none are ready for prime time
as a screening test for the general public.
The best way to identify ovarian cancer is through an abnormality felt on a
routine pelvic exam. . Which means the best preventive measure women can take
is to have their annual gynecologic exam. An ultrasound exam can confirm this.
If cancer is suspected, a blood test can be ordered to measure CA-125, a protein
produced by ovarian cancer cells which is elevated in half of women with early
ovarian cancer and 80% of women with advanced cancer. This is NOT a reliable
screening or diagnostic test for ovarian cancer, however. The only way to make
the definite diagnosis is surgically. As with most cancers, the earlier the
stage of ovarian cancer at the time of diagnosis, the better the prognosis will
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Created: 1/22/2001  - Donnica Moore, M.D.