View Full Version : IMPORTANT for WOMEN dx with IBS!!!!

Ann S
05-31-2001, 08:14 PM
I don't mean to create a scare in women with IBS, but a lot of the symptoms are similar, and I know how often many drs. just give women an IBS diagnosis without checking things out. (I believe my diagnosis of IBS was accurate.) I think women with IBS should have this info to consider. As a person who has suffered through many misdiagnosises, I believe we need all the information possible to use as weapons to stand up for ourselves as we plow through the health system maze. (I just recently had a dr., a so-called specialist, dismiss my many symptoms (not IBS ones) and refused to run other tests, until I got angry and subtly threatened what might happen if I was right and he was wrong. Unfortunately & fortunately, I was right ! Granted, we need to consider the info we gather as REASONABLE adults, and NOT JUMP TO ANY CONCLUSIONS!
Anyway, I have taken excerpts from the Mayo clinic site and copied them to post here. Make your own INFORMED judgements. For those who want to read the whole site, here is the address: <A HREF="http://www.mayoclinic.com/home?id=DS00293" TARGET=_blank>http://www.mayoclinic.com/home?id=DS00293</A>
Ovarian Cancer?
Signs and Symptoms
In its early stages, ovarian cancer often is a silent condition producing few, if any, noticeable symptoms. As a tumor enlarges in the ovary, it may exert pressure on the bowel, bladder and other organs in the abdominal cavity, causing vague symptoms that are EASILY CONFUSED WITH OTHER SYMPTOMS.

MANY SYMPTOMS CAN BE SIGNS OF OTHER LESS SERIOUS CONDITIONS, but if they persist they may indicate ovarian cancer. Consult your doctor if you experience any or all of the following signs and symptoms:
* Abdominal swelling
* Abdominal pain
* Bloating
* Indigestion, gas or nausea
* A feeling of pressure in the pelvis
* Frequent urination
* Unexplained changes in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea)
* Unexplained weight loss or gain
* A feeling of fullness, even after a light meal
* Abnormal bleeding from the vagina

Age. Ovarian cancer generally develops after menopause. Still, even though most cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed in women over age 50, IT CAN AFFECT YOUNGER WOMEN. Although the majority of ovarian cancer cases occur in women who don't have a strong family history of the disease, about 7 percent of ovarian cancer cases are linked to a genetic predisposition for the disease. Other factors may play a role in a woman's increased risk of ovarian cancer.

When to Seek Medical Advice
See a doctor if you have abdominal pain or swelling that doesn't go away. Remember that the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer often are not easy to detect. Regular pelvic exams are the best way to protect against ovarian cancer or to catch it before it progresses too far.
Because most ovarian cancer cases are detected late, women with a family history of ovarian cancer should be especially committed to regular pelvic exams. If you have a history of ovarian cancer in your family, strongly consider seeing a physician trained to care for ovarian cancer patients so that you can talk about screening and treatment options before the disease develops.
treat ovarian cancer.

Screening and Diagnosis
Currently no standardized screening test exists to reliably detect ovarian cancer. Still, several screening procedures may help detect the disease. They include:
* Pelvic examination. Your physician will examine your vagina, rectum and lower abdomen for masses or growths. It is recommended that women of all ages have yearly pelvic exams. Even a woman who has had her uterus removed but still has her ovaries should have a pelvic exam each year.
* Ultrasound. If the pelvic exam reveals a growth on your ovary, your doctor may order an ultrasound test. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to evaluate tissue and create an image of the sound pattern called a sonogram. Research is currently underway to determine if this test is useful in women at high risk of ovarian cancer.

One test is primarily used to check for the recurrence of ovarian cancer in women who have previously had the disease:
* CA 125 blood test. CA (cancer antigen) 125 is a protein antigen that is found at abnormally high levels in the blood serum of many people with cancer. Most healthy people have CA 125 levels below 35 units per milliliter of blood serum. It is important to note that a number of noncancerous conditions can cause elevated CA 125 levels, and some women with ovarian cancer never have an elevated CA 125. Because of these limitations, this test is not commonly used as a routine screening test in women who are not at high risk or don't have specific signs and symptoms of the disease.

*What is the CA125 marker for cancer? Is it specific to a particular type like the PSA test is for prostate cancer? Can the level be used as an indicator for someone who has not been diagnosed as having cancer?
Carol / N.Y.
-The CA 125 is a blood test that may be helpful in monitoring the status of women with cancer of the ovary. The test measures the level of a protein that's abnormally high in about 80 percent of women who have advanced ovarian cancer. It's also elevated in about half of those with early stages of this disease. However, some women with ovarian cancer never have an elevated level.
-CA 125 is not specific it can be elevated in many other types of intra- abdominal cancers. In addition, an elevated number does not always indicate that a cancer is present.
-If someone without a diagnosis of cancer has an elevated CA 125 level, studies such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans or ultrasound imaging are warranted in an attempt to determine why the test is abnormal. A careful medical history and physical examination should be done before such additional tests.
Other possible diagnostic tests may include a computerized tomography (CT) scan, which provides detailed pictures of targeted areas inside the body produced by a computer that is linked to an X-ray machine. Your doctor may also choose to order an X-ray of your lower gastrointestinal tract to determine if the disease has spread to other organs. X-rays are taken after you have had a barium enema, which aids in visualizing any abnormal tissue in the colon and rectum.
<p>[This message has been edited by moderator3 (edited 06-05-2001).]

06-03-2001, 12:33 AM
Ann, as a woman's health educator, I am scared to death of ovarian cancer. With all of the "digestive symptoms" I have I am a wreck and have myself diagnosed with cancer all of the time. The thing that scares me so much about ovarian cancer is the "silent killer" part. I have had a couple of vaginal ultrasounds the last couple of years, along with two ultrasounds (checking the gallbladder), upper and lower GI's, blood tests (kidney and liver function, CBC(complete blood count), some test that looks for any kind of swelling or infection, and a colonoscopy. My doc told me last year that she thought I had mild endometriosis. This year she told me that she felt a "lesion" on the back right side of my uterus. She said that my uterus is 20% larger than last year. This is when she put me on the progesterin only pill. She thought I also had some small fibroids, too. I will have another vaginal ultrasound on June 13th. I am scared to death at what they might find. I asked my doc about a CA-125 test and she said women with endo. will have a positive result, leading to unnecessary fear. My symptoms come and go, is that common for ov. cancer? What is more common, constipation or diarrhea? What changes occur with periods with ov. cancer? My symptoms are: constipation and occasional diarrhea, right sided pain, just like a side ache. Feels just like ovulation, but occurs any time of month. One thing they did find during the lower GI and colonoscopy is some diverticula on the right side. Sometimes my stomach just aches and wraps around to my back. I appreciate your warning, and when you have a chance could you tell me more about your symptoms? I am 34, and as you know four kids, breastfed them all, no cancer in my family at all, so very low risk. Thanks, Janet

06-04-2001, 10:42 PM
Thank you Ann for this information.
I plan to share this will my family and friends.

Thank you again!

Ann S
06-05-2001, 07:57 PM
When you asked about my symptoms, I'm guessing you were referring to when I said I had been misdiagnosed in the past and had to issue veiled threats to get tests run. I did not mean to imply that I have ovarian cancer or that I suspect I have it. Some of the examples I was referring to were these: when my daughter was about 8 yrs. old, she had a lot of stomach pain, was losing weight, and had the strangest looking stools. They insisted it was a dairy allergy. I removed her from all dairy, which in itself was painful cause cheese was all she wanted to eat at the time. Her pain and symptoms persisited. I persisted in trying to convince the drs. to look further. I even brought in a stool sample for them to look at. They refused cause they said it would be contaminated, but didn't attempt to get an uncontaminated one. The next visit, I brought along another stool sample and insisted that he at least look at it himself, not run tests, and lo and behold.... he had the lab run tests! She had a parasite........all that pain & suffering (as a mother of 4, you know I suffered too!) for about 9 months. Another daughter was given the dx of 'exercise induced asthma'with NO tests run, but an inhaler prescribed. We later found out by a specialist that the inhaler could have caused her heart damage cause she did not have asthma. More recently, I was just diagnosed with several autoimmune disorders...........my symptoms were dismissed by the dr. on several visits until I issued a veiled threat and he finally ordered some tests run. (I'm not on an HMO either) I really don't enjoy approaching the medical profession this way - I believe there are some really good drs. out there (I just don't seem to have any luck finding them.). I also believe, even a good dr., can't possibly know all there is to know - tell me that, or refer me on. Finally, I also believe, that as women, we get shrugged off more, or slapped with 'catch all' diagnosises, and short-changed on research, tests, etc., because of the belief that we're hysterical hypochondriacs.
Whew!!!!!!!!! Sorry about all that venting! Janet, as a part of the health profession, I hope you're not offended by these opinions. I know you've been concerned for a long time about your symptoms and I really do understand how scary and stressful that can be. It sounds like you've been aggressive about your concerns and your dr. seems to at least be trying to check some things out....... I just don't know what I'd do in your case. All I can say is that I'll hope and pray that you're led in the right direction. Take care, Ann

06-06-2001, 10:25 AM
Thanks, Ann, for responding. I can't find your original post, but I thought you said you were diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer? What did I misunderstand? I am glad it is not true!! The reasonable side to me knows I don't have anything life threatening because of how long I have had the symptoms, and they are not continuous. No, no, no, I am not offended by your comments about the health care industry. You are absolutely right. As with anything anymore, we have to be assertive (sometimes aggresive) in getting good care. We have to be a pain in the @#$, until they finally do what we want to get us off their backs! I live in a town about 40 miles from San Fransisco. You think I recieve my medical care from around here? I even work at our local hospital! We have a PPO so we can go anywhere. All of my docs are in S.F. I definetly think the best medical care is in the big, university cities. I am sure there are exceptions in some places. My mother has Kaiser and I won't even go into what I have had to go thru to get her help. I could walk in and not say a word and the doc would look at her and not say a word and leave. I have to ask for every test including EKG's, blood tests, and everything else that should be done yearly at her age. If I didn't ask they wouldn't be done. Very frustrating. <IMG SRC="http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/mad.gif"> I know this is going to be long, but I want to address your daughter's problem that you mentioned. My four year old son has never really had normal BM's. They usually tend to be on the soft side. Sometimes he will have a very explosive BM that will be very mushy sorry <IMG SRC="http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/rolleyes.gif"> and there will be undigested food in it. This has only been every once in a while until the last three weeks. Since then he will have a somewhat normal bm, then a couple hours later have this explosive one. I have tried eliminating dairy, no effect. He never complains about stomach pain, though. He just came down with a cough and this rash (no fever), so I am going to wait a little while longer to see if this might just be a virus, or something. Anyway, sorry this is so long. Thanks again, Janet <IMG SRC="http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/bouncing.gif">

[This message has been edited by 4isenuf (edited 06-08-2001).]<p>[This message has been edited by 4isenuf (edited 06-08-2001).]

Ann S
06-07-2001, 12:25 PM
Anyway, NO that was not me who said I was in stage 3 (Thank God!). About your son, the symptoms sound much different than my daughter's problem, and I'm sorry, but I don't have any advice or clues to give you. Hope it turns out o.k. Ann<p>[This message has been edited by moderator3 (edited 06-07-2001).]