Early detection of gynecologic cancers greatly increases treatment success. While there has been a lot of research to develop a screening test for ovarian cancer,there hasn’t been much success so far. The 2 tests used most often to screen for ovarian cancer are — transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) and the CA-125 blood test – both have limitations. TVUS is a test that uses sound waves to look at the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries using an ultrasound wand. This can help detect a mass, but can’t determine if the mass is cancer. CA-125 is a protein in the blood and many women with ovarian cancer have high levels of CA-125. However, common conditions other than cancer can also cause high levels of CA-125.
The best thing women can do is be diligent about getting regular women’s health exams. Also, visit your doctor if you notice any changes in your body or potential symptoms, including abdominal swelling or bloating, pelvic pressure or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and/or urinary symptoms like having to go urgently or more frequently. While many of these are symptoms of conditions other than cancer, it's important to be open and honest with your doctor if you experience any changes in your body or habits.
BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that produce proteins that produce tumor suppressor proteins, which help repair damaged DNA. These proteins help ensure the stability of the genetic material of cells. When either of these genes, BRCA1 or BRCA2, are mutated, cancer may develop. Specific inherited mutations of BRCA1 and BRCA2 tend to increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers.
Community Care Physicians offers genetic testing to help women determine if you are considered higher or lower risk for ovarian cancer. Some women face inherited risk for ovarian cancer due to genetic mutations, specifically the presence of a BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that produce proteins that product tumor suppressor proteins, which help repair damaged DNA. These proteins help ensure the stability of the genetic material of cells. An altered, or mutated, BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene increases the likelihood that cancer will develop. The most common types of cancers associated with BRCA alterations are ovarian cancer and breast cancer.
In December 2013, the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommended that women who have family members with breast, ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer be evaluated to see if they have a family history that is associated with an increased risk of a harmful mutation in one of these genes.
When an individual has a family history that is suggestive of the presence of a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, it is preferred to first test a family member who has cancer if that person is still alive and willing to be tested. If that person is found to have a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, then other family members may want to consider genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA 2 mutations. If it is not possible to confirm the presence of a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation in a family member who has cancer, it is appropriate for those who have a family medical history of cancer (but no cancer themselves) to potentially be tested.