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Ovarian Cancer and the CA 125 test November 4, 2009

Posted by Admin in Cancer, Health Insurance, Healthonymous.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I am in a research study which is watching a number of women like me who are at higher risk for ovarian cancer. For me, this is due to my status as a two-time early-onset breast cancer survivor. (In a future post, I will address the difference between relative risk and absolute risk).

Suffice to say, they tell me that I am at higher risk. This is my second research study in my home town for ovarian cancer. The first one lasted four years and I had blood drawn quarterly to check my CA 125 level.

What is CA-125?

    CA-125, cancer antigen-125, is a protein that is found at levels in most ovarian cancer cells that are elevated compared to normal cells. CA-125 is produced on the surface of cells and is released in the blood stream.

Source: Johns Hopkins Pathology website

The website goes on to explain that CA 125  is a poor indicator of Stage 1 ovarian cancer, but is more accurate for later stages. Serial testing over a period of time, as I am having, (semiannually)  is a better way to keep track, in combination with a transvaginal ultrasound of the ovaries (you can figure that one out on your own, I think),If I had the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations (which I do not), this would increase my chances of having ovarian cancer to 63% by age 70, again according to Johns Hopkins.

Here is a link to another blog post on a similar research study.

Ovarian cancer is among the top 5 causes of cancer death for women in the US. It is best treated in the early stages, where the 5 year survival rate  is 82-92%.

I hate the 5 year survival rate number-you know why? It is because you can’t get life insurance again until ten years have passed and it can affect the pricing  and access(currently) to individual health insurance.

5 is a great number for you and the doctors, but health insurance companies still use  the question”Has it been ten years since you were treated for cancer?” I haven’t seen any applications that use 5 years-let me know if you have!

And last but not least, another reason I am in the study? It is free, save for the blood donations. (one vial to test and one to save for future tests) I have only one set of veins (one arm-no blood draws in the arm with lymphedema) to offer up for blood draws so this is not as easy as it might seem. But I feel strongly about participating in research where I can, because research in the 13 years between cancers for me probably saved my life. To learn about cancer research trials in your area in the US, you can visit this website.



1. Wendy Washington - November 12, 2009

this is truly amazing i am a registered nurse from the Caribbean and we do not have in our public hospitals such diagnostic tools like u described – we are now attempting a research on womens’ awareness of signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. So this is quite impressive to me i hope your CA-125 remains low much blessings to you and yours

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