Points to Consider if Your Physician Advises You Not to Pursue a Baseline CA-125 Test
-offered by Cynthia K. -
(One who has been there and is still here)
If your physician informs you that the CA-125 should not be run for any of the following reasons, you might consider the suggested response and questions. It is important for you and your doctor to be on the “same page”. They care about you and need to know what you are feeling on the inside as well as the outside. After all, you are a TEAM dedicated to the same goal...a long, healthy life for you!!!
1. “The CA-125 will not be covered by insurance as a screen”
THAT IS A PROBLEM and we need the help of the medical community to advocate for this. The minimal cost of a CA-125 test ($70-$110) is NOTHING to an insurance company compared to the extremely high cost of an advanced cancer diagnosis. The cost incurred by both the insurance company and the patient for a late stage diagnosis far exceeds that of an early diagnosis. So, if at all possible, why not catch it early, treat it properly, and save some lives?? That is after all, a common goal we share with our trusted physicians.
2. “The CA-125 gives false reassurance- a negative test is not a guarantee of no cancer”
Actually, this point is well taken. It is true that the CA-125 can give false negative and positive results. However, other routinely ordered medical tests (the PSA and mammogram to name a few) ALSO can give false positive or negative results. My own father was diligently monitored and went through a number of tests after receiving an abnormal PSA test taken during a routine physical. Thankfully, he was not presented with a cancer diagnosis. However, had it been a carcinoma, he would have been diagnosed as early as possible and would have been given a very hopeful prognosis. In addition, many women have been called back time and time again to repeat mammograms that had resulted in a suspicious or abnormal reading. As for myself and the many friends I have lost to Ovarian Cancer, NONE of us wanted to hear that we might have cancer but ALL of us would have been thankful to be given a test that could rule it out. Coincidentally, each of us received a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a non-lethal problem. Though it may have been comforting at the time to receive this kind of diagnosis, it soon presented us all with quite painful emotional and physical suffering and ultimately, cost too many of these wonderful women...wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers their lives.
3. “The CA-125 is not the standard of care and is not recommended for screening”
Please, PLEASE remember that though a CA-125 may not work perfectly in every patient’s case, it DOES work for 30-50% of women tested (according to a prominent Milwaukee Gynecologic-Oncologist). If it works for you, that’s what matters. It worked for me (albeit late) and my dear friends that have passed away to name a few. If each healthy woman were given a CA-125 screening as part of their annual exam (or at least presented with the option of receiving the test), the baseline information could end up literally saving that patient’s life! If the results fall outside the norm of <35, then further testing should be done to RULE OUT the most LETHAL diagnosis FIRST. You should be diligently monitored, as you would be with an abnormal test result of any other kind. If in a month the number remains stable, then it would be comforting to know that your personal “norm” is above guidelines. It costs $70-$110 to confirm that. If however, the number jumps 20 or 30 more points , then you may indeed have a potentially serious problem. Maybe it is non-lethal and maybe it is not. Any woman who is concerned about her health and the implications for her future health would want to know that. We rely on our physicians to keep us healthy and certainly to be proactive in detecting any kind of threatening medical problem in any way possible. For now, the CA-125 is all we have to work with. True, it may not be perfect, but it DOES give very useful information that can be used to rule out worst case scenarios. We, as patients are not as scarred by false positive results (that thankfully lead to a confirmation of good health) as we are of life threatening diseases that are left undiagnosed until it is too late. We count on our physicians to match the “standard of care” to the needs of the patient. If need be, then we need our physicians to help us take a stand and change that standard of care!