[MOL] Is It Ovarian Cancer? [01076] Medicine On Line


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[MOL] Is It Ovarian Cancer?



October 23, 2000
Is It Ovarian Cancer?

Q: I have had two abdominal ultrasounds in the last six months. They have both detected calcium in and around my right ovary. My gynecologist has drawn blood and I am awaiting the results of a CA-125 test. In the meantime, I would like to know what these detections may mean. My doctor mentioned ovarian cancer and I freaked out. I cried, then I began to do some research. I am finding out that someone like me is at low risk: black, 30 years old, one pregnancy (terminated), 5 foot 5 inches, 190 pounds, on birth control pills, non-smoker, eating little red meat or pork. Got any words of wisdom?

A: An ultrasound cannot definitively diagnose "calcium in or around" any structure. That's just an interpretation by the person reading the sonogram. What may appear as high-density echoes, or bright spots on the sonogram, could be due to something entirely different than ovarian cancer.

       If you were postmenopausal, the most likely diagnosis would be a malignancy. But at 30 years of age, the most likely diagnosis is benign cystic teratoma of the ovary -- a dermoid cyst filled with fatty material and cartilage -- not ovarian cancer. Those bright spots around your ovary are more likely due to the presence of teeth or bone in a dermoid cyst than calcifications associated with cancer. The fact that the finding is on one side rather than on both sides also argues against a malignancy.
       Still, it's very difficult to render an opinion without knowing if the ovary is enlarged or painful when it's examined. CA-125, a protein found in the blood, can be associated with cancers from a number of sites, including ovary, uterine line, fallopian tubes, pancreas, breast, lung or colon. In postmenopausal patients, markedly elevated levels of CA-125 can determine benign from malignant disease with 96 percent accuracy, and surgery is often warranted. So, while surgery may be necessary in your case, at your age the likelihood of the ovary being malignant is remote.

 
 
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