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Avatar universal

Heredity and Ovarian Cancer

My mother recently passed away (4/8/02).  She was 76 years old and the diagnosis was Ovarian Cancer that had metasticized (sp?).

A CT scan in November 2001 showed a 5cm tumor on the ovary.  Consulting physician advised Attending Physician on having a CA125.  No CA125 was done for followup.  I switched doctors 4/5/02 due to mothers condition continuing to fail.  On 4/7/02 new doctor gave me a poor prognosis.  I started hospice care immediately and mother passed on 4/8.  I had a CA125 performed post mortem on 4/9.  Results were extremely out of range (highly elevated/417).  Should I have been more agressive with her attending physician on cancer screening?  Is a CA125 routine upon finding a 5cm growth on the ovary?  Those questions are for my own piece of mind.  

Most importantly, I do have 4 sisters and I want them to be progressive with their health care.  Should they be doing anything on a routine basis for preventive reasons for Ovarian cancer?  Anything they should be testing/looking for?  Is Ovarian Cancer hereditary? I don't want lightning to strike twice.

Thank you in advance for helping to ease my pain and concerns.
1 Responses
Avatar universal
Dear jsbla:  This is a breast cancer forum but your question is not terribly complicated so I will answer.  CA-125 is not a screening test.  It is also not diagnostic.  It is often done when ovarian cancer is diagnosed (in surgery) so that the response to subsequent chemotherapy can be measured.  The only role for CA-125 in ovarian cancer is to track the disease AFTER diagnosis.  If your mother did not have surgery or did not choose chemotherapy, there may have been no real reason to do the test.  In other words, in untreated ovarian cancer, you would expect this level to be elevated.  If you are not going to use the number to evaluate the response to chemotherapy, then there is no real reason to collect the information.

Some forms of ovarian cancer are considered hereditary - usually those diagnosed in younger women.  However, if your mother had ovarian cancer, there would be a slightly increased risk for her sisters or daughters.  This information should be shared with the respective gynecologists who can recommend appropriate screening.  At most, a pelvic ultrasound may be ordered at certain intervals in addition to the standard pelvic examination.  A CA-125 should NOT be done for screening.
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