What Is Ovarian Cancer?
There are two ovaries in the female reproductive system, each roughly the size of an almond and located on either side of the uterus. A cancerous cell growth that develops from the ovaries is called ovarian cancer. The cancer cells can reproduce swiftly and spread to healthy tissue. In Singapore, ovarian cancer is the 6th most common cancer among women, according to the 2020 National Cancer Registry Annual Report. Tumour marker tests for ovarian cancer are frequently offered as part of health screening packages in Singapore.
Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors
Risk factors for ovarian cancer include:
- Had few pregnancies or had never been pregnant.
- Had late pregnancy.
- Have a family history of the disease.
- History of a high-fat diet.
- Experienced early onset of menstruation and late menopause.
- Have endometriosis.
What Are Tumour Markers?
Tumour markers are substances that are present in the blood, urine, or tissue in people at higher-than-normal levels when they experience tumour growths. These compounds, often known as biomarkers, may be produced by tumours, or by healthy cells in reaction to tumours. Some tumour markers may be unique to a particular type of cancer, whereas others may be linked to multiple types of cancers. There are also cancers for which there are current no known tumour markers. However, it should also be noted that noncancerous conditions may also sometimes cause the levels of some tumour markers to be elevated.
Tumour Marker Tests For Ovarian Cancer
Tumour marker tests for ovarian cancer may be ordered by doctors as part of the diagnosis for the disease, to monitor the progress of treatment, or to monitor for recurrence of the cancer following successful treatment.
Tumour marker test for CA125 (one of the tumour markers for ovarian cancer) is often offered by clinics as part of their health screening packages. While this test is typically not a recommended tests for routine screening for women of average risk for the cancer, it might nonetheless be something that women with risk factors may consider. A negative result may not indicate the absence of tumours, but a positive result can serve to prompt the patient for followup with her doctor to see if further diagnosis tests are needed. This may lead to earlier detection of a potential health issue and make it easier to treat or manage the condition.
Examples Of Tumour Marker Tests For Ovarian Cancer
CA125 (Cancer Antigen 125)
The most commonly used tumour marker test for ovarian cancer. It is used to aid in diagnosis, monitor the effectiveness of treatment, and determine whether cancer will return following treatment. This test is also frequently offered as part of health screening packages in Singapore.
HE4 (Human Epididymis Protein 4)
The tumour marker HE4 is frequently overexpressed in patients with endometrioid ovarian cancer. A CA125 test may be combined with tests to detect HE4.
Inhibin A & B
These are hormones that the ovary naturally produces that may be elevated in some kinds of ovarian cancer (mucinous epithelial carcinoma, granulosa cell tumours). A test for this can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment and keep an eye out for cancer recurrence. The effectiveness of testing for them in women of child-bearing age is uncertain as they may have naturally elevated levels of these hormones without the presence of tumours.
Further Reading That Might Interest You
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.