SIGNS OF OVARIAN CANCER
(even in the absence of Ovaries)
I hope you all take the time to
read this and pass it on to all you can.
Send this to the women in your
life that you care about.
Years ago, Gilda Radner died of ovarian cancer. Her
symptoms were inconclusive, and she was treated for everything
under the sun until it was too late. This blood test finally
identified her illness but alas, too late.
She wrote a book to heighten awareness. Gene Wilder is her
KATHY'S STORY: this is
the story of Kathy West
As all of you know, I have Primary Peritoneal Cancer. This
cancer has only recently been identified as its OWN type of
cancer, but it is essentially Ovarian Cancer.
Both types of cancer are diagnosed in the same way, with
the "tumor marker" CA-125 BLOOD TEST, and they are treated in
the same way - surgery to remove the primary tumor and then
chemotherapy with Taxol and Carboplatin.
Having gone through this ordeal, I want to save others from
the same fate. That is why I am sending this message to you
and hope you will print it and give it or send it via E-mail
to everybody you know.
One thing I have learned is that each of us must take TOTAL
responsibility for our own health care. I thought I had done
that because I always had an annual physical and PAP smear,
did a monthly Self-Breast Exam, went to the dentist at least
twice a year, etc. I even insisted on a sigmoidoscopy and a
bone density test last year. When I had a total hysterectomy
in 1993, I thought that I did not have to worry about getting
any of the female reproductive organ cancers.
LITTLE DID I KNOW. I don't have ovaries (and they
were HEALTHY when they were removed), but I have what is
essentially ovarian cancer. Strange, isn't it?
These are just SOME of the things our Doctors never tell
us: ONE out of every 55 women will get OVARIAN or PRIMARY
The "CLASSIC" symptoms are an ABDOMEN that rather SUDDENLY
ENLARGES and CONSTIPATION and/or DIARRHEA.
I had these classic symptoms and went to the doctor.
Because these symptoms seemed to be "abdominal", I went to a
gastroenterologist. He ran tests that were designed to
determine whether there was a bacteria infection; these tests
were negative, and I was diagnosed with "Irritable Bowel
Syndrome". I guess I would have accepted this diagnosis had it
not been for my enlarged abdomen. I swear to you, it looked
like I was 4-5 months pregnant! I therefore insisted on more
They took an X-ray of my abdomen; it was negative. I was
again assured that I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome and was
encouraged to go on my scheduled month-long trip to Europe. I
couldn't wear any of my slacks or shorts because I couldn't
get them buttoned, and I KNEW something was radically wrong. I
INSISTED on more tests, and they reluctantly) scheduled me for
a CT-Scan (just to shut me up, I think). This is what I mean
by "taking charge of our own health care."
The CT-Scan showed a lot of fluid in my abdomen (NOT
normal). Needless to say, I had to cancel my trip and have
FIVE POUNDS of fluid drawn off at the hospital (not a pleasant
experience I assure you), but NOTHING compared to what was
ahead of me.
Tests revealed cancer cells in the fluid. Finally, finally,
finally, the doctor ran a CA-125 blood test, and I was
I HAD THE CLASSIC SYMPTOMS FOR OVARIAN CANCER, AND YET THIS
SIMPLE CA-125 BLOOD TEST HAD NEVER BEEN RUN ON ME, not as part
of my annual physical exam and not when I was symptomatic.
This is an inexpensive and simple blood test!
PLEASE, PLEASE TELL ALL YOUR FEMALE FRIENDS AND RELATIVES
TO INSIST ON A CA-125 BLOOD TEST EVERY YEAR AS PART OF THEIR
ANNUAL PHYSICAL EXAMS.
Be forewarned that their doctors might try to talk them out
of it, saying, "IT ISN'T NECESSARY." Believe me, had I known
then what I know now, we would have caught my cancer much
earlier (before it was a stage 3 cancer). Insist on the CA-125
BLOOD TEST; DO NOT take "NO" for an answer!
The normal range for a CA-125 BLOOD TEST is between zero
and 35. MINE WAS 754. (That's right, 754!). If the number is
slightly above 35, you can have another done in three or six
months and keep a close eye on it, just as women do when they
have fibroid tumors or when men have a slightly elevated PSA
test (Prostatic Specific Antigens) that helps diagnose
Having the CA-125 test done annually can alert you early,
and that's the goal in diagnosing any type of cancer -
catching it early.
Do you know 55 women? If so, at least one of them will have
this VERY AGGRESSIVE cancer. Please, go to your doctor and
insist on a CA-125 test and have one EVERY YEAR for the rest
of your life.
And forward this message to every woman you know, and tell
all of your female family members and friends. Though the
median age for this cancer is 56, (and, guess what, I'm
exactly 56), women as young as 22 have it. Age is no factor.
A NOTE FROM THE RN:
Well, after reading this, I made some calls. I found that
the CA-125 test is an ovarian screening test equivalent to a
man's PSA test prostate screen (which my husband's doctor
automatically gives him in his physical each year and
insurance pays for it). I called the general practitioner's
office about having the test done. The nurse had never heard
of it. She told me that she doubted that insurance would pay
for it. So I called Prudential Insurance Co, and got the same
response. Never heard of it - it won't be covered.
I explained that it was the same as the PSA test they had
paid for my husband for years. After conferring with whomever
they confer with, she told me that the CA-125 would be
It is $75 in a GP's office and $125 at the GYN's. This is a
screening test that should be required just like a PAP smear
(a PAP smear cannot detect problems with your ovaries). And
you must insist that your insurance company pay for it.
Gene Wilder and Pierce Brosnan (his wife had it, too) are
lobbying for women's health issues, saying that this test
should be required in our physicals, just like the PAP and the
mammogram. PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO SEND THIS OUT TO ALL THOSE
YOU CAN. BE IT MALE OR FEMALE, IT SHOULD NOT MATTER, AS THEY
CAN FORWARD IT ALSO TO THOSE LOVED ONES THEY KNOW