From a recent conversation I had with mom over the phone, the doctors found a cyst in one of her ovaries. Unfortunately, mom is not born with a keen sense for details, so there's not much use to try to find out more information from her about her condition. To her, the doctors found something there, and it needs to come out—plain and simple. She probably thinks that she'd be given something so that she'd fall asleep for a few hours while the doctors cut the thing off. And then she'll be up and running again the next day, perhaps in good time for her favourite bingo games on Monday and Thursday.
Later on, I obtained a bit more info from my half sister who told me that both her ovaries and her entire uterus will have to go. So I suppose the doctors are not taking any chances. Apparently, the cyst in her ovary is not cancerous, but after all, I suppose a woman in her mid-sixties would no longer need her uterus and ovaries.
As a matter of habit, I have since done a bit of reading about ovarian cancer and related topics. I don't claim to know a lot—certainly I have only fathomed perhaps 5% of the subject. One of the related topics I found interesting is the CA-125, which is commonly referred to as the tumour marker.
The Sports & Recreational Club of our company conducts an annual comprehensive blood test for all the staff at a "discounted rate" by one of those labs in KK. I think it's a good annual project of our sports club. I remember that amongst the available tests in the blood screening package, was the test to detect elevated levels of CA-125 for the ladies. But that was an optional add-on test which cost a bit more for the ladies. The CA-125 test was promoted as a screening test for early detection of mainly ovarian cancer, although not limited to that type of cancer.
However, I have since read up a bit on the topic, and then had the opportunity to verify some points of the CA-125 test with my friend, Dr Peter, during one of our recent long runs.
It may be surprising to some of you, but the CA-125 test offered by the labs is not even suitable to be used as a screening test for ovarian cancer, especially for pre-menopausal women, simply because there are just too many other factors that can cause an elevated level of CA-125 in the body. But what's worse is that there are cases where ovarian cancer is present, yet the test of CA-125 may be negative, thus resulting in a false security! This may lead to delayed treatment, and we all know that when it comes to cancer, precious time lost usually means death!
The recommended use of the CA-125 test is as a follow up of treatment of ovarian cancer to monitor progress, not so much for detection of the disease.
Yet the labs have been promoting the CA-125 test as a screening test. What's even more disturbing is that even some of the specialist medical centres are offering such tests. I think only doctors should be authorised to order such tests as the CA-125.
The only trouble is that when doctors wear the physician's cap as well as the businessman's cap, ethics may become a secondary consideration in the equation.