Lack of study in ovarian cancer raises concern

By Karli Morello
May 3, 2007

Newport News Daily Press/MCT

“I was speechless. I was numb. Whether you want to know it or not, they will explain it to you,” Sandy Eubank of Riverside, NJ said when she found out she had ovarian cancer.

Eubank was diagnosed with ovarian cancer six months ago and on April 24, 2007 found out that she beat it and is now in remission.

Ovarian cancer is otherwise known as “the silent killer” because there are currently no tests that show whether a person has it until the cancer cells show up on cat scans. When Eubank found out her prognosis the cells had already spread throughout her body and into her lungs. “My lungs filled with fluid and in the fluid they found cells,” Eubank said.

She has already gone through a full hysterectomy and chemotherapy.

Eubank’s biggest question is why there is not a test for ovarian cancer that can detect it sooner. It seems that other cancers such as breast and colon are able to be detected right away and those people can start their treatment as soon as possible, but with ovarian cancer, it is not so easy.

“Cancer treatment is more likely to be successful when the cancer is diagnosed before it has spread. For many types of cancer, regular screening tests can help detect cancer early,” according to plwc.org, a website approved by oncologists which is set up for people living with cancer.

“Currently, doctors can screen for cancers of the breast, colon, rectum, cervix, prostate, testes, mouth and mouth area and skin. Screening tests for other cancers, such as lung and ovarian cancer, are currently being evaluated,” according to plwc.org.

While browsing this website, one will find that there are many studies going on about how to possibly reduce the risk of ovarian cancer but not much is going on with early detection which is the biggest problem. “Doctors are studying whether vitamins A and D and drugs that stop inflammation, such as COX-2 inhibitors, may reduce a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer,” according to plwc.org.

There are some studies being done with early detection but the most focus is on treatment and a possible vaccine. According to PRNewswire.com, “Proteomics is being studied which is looking for protein levels and signatures which may be able to detect ovarian cancer early.”

As of now, there are two ways to detect ovarian cancer. One is a trans-vaginal ultrasound. This type of testing is the most accurate but is very cost effective. The other is the CA-125 blood test. This test is not very accurate and usually can only detect cancer cells after they have progressed and spread, according to PRNewswire.com.

In the case of Sandy Eubank, she felt comfortable with her doctor’s answers to her many questions and never felt left in the dark. “My doctor explained everything. He is more spiritual than just medicine. He always told me to be positive and that would help with the curing process,” Eubank said.

Research on ovarian cancer is funded by the federal government and non-profit organizations. They are not as large as breast cancer organizations but they do exist. One of the biggest organizations is the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance which can be found at ovariancancer.org. This program unites people dealing with the cancer and people with loved ones who have been diagnosed. There, you can donate to help fund research.

Eubank feels that she would like to pursue something similar in order to fund more research about her and many other’s conditions. “I would like to be an advocate. I wish they would find a cure tomorrow.”

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Karli Morello

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