• Give a Gift
  • Customer Service
  • Promotions
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Win
  • Games

June 11, 2007

They Told me I was Pregnant, But it was Ovarian Cancer

Special Offer

One in 58 women will get ovarian cancer—that’s about 25,000 a year. So far, dietary habits and exercise haven’t been shown to have much influence, but other factors do.

• A mother, sister, or grandmother who has or had breast or ovarian cancer. Women with a family history are two to three times more prone to get the disease than other women are. • Getting your first period before age 12. • A history of endometriosis.

• Being young. Most women with ovarian cancer are age 60-plus. • Having children—especially after age 35, according to a recent study—and breastfeeding them. • Taking the Pill. After five years of use, ovarian-cancer risk drops by 50 percent.

Currently, there is no standard screening test for ovarian cancer. (The Pap test checks for cervical cancer, not ovarian.) But some tests are currently being—or will soon be—marketed to women. They sound like a good idea, but there are reasons to be wary:

1. CA 125 test
Contrary to widely circulated emails, testing your blood for the “tumor marker” CA 125 has not been proven to accurately screen for ovarian cancer, says Andrew Berchuck, M.D., professor of gynecological oncology at Duke University Medical Center. Used to detect recurrence in women who have already had the disease, it yields too many false positives (things other than ovarian cancer can elevate levels of this marker) and false negatives (some research suggests it misses as many as half of all early tumors) to be an effective screening tool. Researchers are aiming to improve the test.

2. OvaCheck
This test may be on the market by the time you read this, but it brings with it serious controversy. OvaCheck uses a breakthrough technology, called proteomics, in which a computer seeks telltale cancer-protein patterns in your blood. In small studies, these “fingerprints” found most early cases of the disease. But the company that makes OvaCheck may sell the test without FDA approval. “We are excited about the premise of proteomics but concerned about a company trying to rush to market before it is fully tested and has proved that it can actually save lives,” says Debbie Saslow, Ph.D., director of breast and gynecologic cancer at the American Cancer Society. False positives are a risk, and could lead thousands of women to unnecessary follow-up procedures, including surgery. Even if this test becomes available, only women with a first-degree relative with breast or ovarian cancer should even consider it, and even then, only after a consultation with a doctor.

Connect with Marie Claire:
daily giveaway
Unlimited Brunch!

Unlimited Brunch!

enter now
You Know You Want More
More From Health News and Fitness Trends
The "Angelina Effect" Doubled the Number of Breast-Cancer Gene Tests

A new study finds her BRCA-1 gene mutation inspired others to get tested.

Primary Protection: The History of the Pill

This little gal has gone through quite the journey.

The Rebel Diet

Born to eat wild? Have an on-again, off-again relationship with healthy eating? You'll love the latest weight-loss news.

post a comment

Special Offer
Link Your Marie Claire Account to Facebook

Marie Claire already has an account with this email address. Link your account to use Facebook to sign in to Marie Claire. To insure we protect your account, please fill in your password below.

Forgot Password?

Thanks for Joining

Your information has been saved and an account has been created for you giving you full access to everything marieclaire.com and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your username and/or password or complete your profile, click here.

Your accounts are now linked

You now have full access to everything Marie Claire and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your settings or profile, click here.