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Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer affects approximately 7,500 women in the UK yearly and is the 6th most common cancer in women. Did you know:

  • Ovarian cancer is most common in women after the menopause
  • Diagnosis can be difficult because early symptoms such as pelvic pain, bloating and difficulty eating can be associated with other illnesses
  • If close relatives have developed the condition it can put you at higher risk developing it too. However, only 1 in 10 ovarian cancer cases has a genetic link
  • Cervical smears cannot detect ovarian cancer

What causes Ovarian Cancer?

It is not yet fully understood what puts you at higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. However, risks increase post menopause and may also be affected by hormone replacement therapy and the condition endometriosis ­– a condition in which cells that make up the lining of the uterus grow elsewhere in the body.

Your check for Ovarian Cancer

Your check involves a simple blood test and the results will be analysed for your CA-125 levels. In 90% of women with ovarian cancer CA-125 levels will be raised. A raised level does not diagnose ovarian cancer however, and further tests will be required for a full diagnosis. 90% of women diagnosed with early stages ovarian cancer will be alive in 5 years.

In order that you’re fully aware of the benefits and limitations of this test, you are advised to discuss with your health screening specialist whether it’s right for you.

How to prepare

You do not need to fast prior to your test but you are advised to wear loose fitting clothing as we will need to take a blood sample. You should also be aware of the benefits and limitation of CA-125 testing.

A positive result for CA125 does NOT mean that you have Ovarian cancer. Rather, it means that further investigation, normally via an ultrasound scan, is recommended to establish whether you have raised risks.

Whilst negative results for CA125 and ultrasound are reassuring up to a point, they do not entirely rule out the condition. If you have frequent or persistent symptoms from the following list you should consult your GP:

  • persistent abdominal distension
  • loss of appetite early satiety
  • abdominal or pelvic pain
  • increased urinary urgency or frequency
  • unexplained weight loss
  • fatigue
  • change in bowel habit
  • new onset of IBS symptoms

How much does it cost?

Your check for Ovarian cancer costs £49. You should speak to your health advisor on the day of your screening to check whether undertaking the test is right for you.

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