Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Doctor Doesn't Quite Know How to Treat My Cancer

Monday October 28, 1991

Dr. Bix called today. She admits she's been avoiding me. Why? Because she doesn't quite know how to treat my cancer. According to my CAT and blood test CA125 I have no cancer but Dr. Bienstock saw it. So she has no way to monitor my progress. She assumes the remaining cancers are resistant to the drugs she gave me for 6 months so she must choose another and there are so many to choose from. She is talking to other doctors and reading many articles and reports from around the world to help her make a decision. I thank her for taking time to make the best decision.

I assume Dr. Beinstock will do a laparoscopy in a few months to look for cancer. There is no other way to know. I will pray for a new test to be perfected soon that can detect ovarian cancer.

I'm feeling pretty frisky and go to watch my friends square dance tonight. I really enjoy that.

Sadly, 20 years later there is still no screening test for ovarian cancer. The CA125 blood test monitors progress in patients who already have ovarian cancer, but it has no use for healthy patients to detect early cancers, as a mammogram does for breast cancer. Even when mom's cancer was seen visually during her hysterectomy, the CA125 test falsely showed she was cancer-free. According to the website for the Cleveland Clinic, there are typically no symptoms of early ovarian cancer. In advanced stages the symptoms of are:

1. Swollen abdomen/bloating (caused by build up of fluid produced by the tumors) (mom had this)
2. Lower abdominal and leg pain
3. Sudden weight loss or gain
4. Change in bowel or bladder function
5. Nausea/indigestion
6. Swelling in the legs

The cause of this cancer is unknown but these are the known risk factors:

1. Early menopause
2. Family history of ovarian cancer
3. No pregnancies

Women who have had children or been on birth control pills are less likely to develop ovarian cancer. Since I have had 3 children and took the pill right up to menopause at the age of 51, I am hoping my risk is reduced. When I had my gallbladder removed in 2008 I had the surgeon take a look with the laparoscope and my ovaries looked fine. He even took a photo.

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