Posts Tagged ‘ovarian cancer’

Tests Every Woman Should Have as She Goes Through Menopause

September 13, 2015

Let the truth be told, women are much better than men about screening tests, office visits to the doctor, and taking their medications than their male counterparts. Let me review tests that women should do after menopause.

If a middle age woman hasn’t had a menstrual period for a year, she’s probably a member of the menopause club. Of course, there are other causes of absent periods but menopause is the most common in middle age women

Blood Tests Every Woman Should Have

If you’re still menstruating, your hormone panel (blood test) should be done during the first three days of your period. It can test for the following hormones:

  • DHEAS (DHEA sulfate) – a hormone that easily converts into other hormones, including estrogen and testosterone
  • Estradiol- the main type of estrogen produced in the body, secreted by the ovaries. If yours is low it can cause memory lapses, anxiety, depression, uncontrollable bursts of anger, sleeplessness, night sweats and more.
  • Testosterone – Free testosterone is unbound and metabolically active, and total testosterone includes both free and bound testosterone. Your ovaries’ production of testosterone maintains a healthy libido, strong bones, muscle mass and mental stability.
  • Progesterone- If yours is low it can cause irritability, breast swelling and tenderness, mood swings, “fuzzy thinking,” sleeplessness, water retention, PMS and weight gain.
  • TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) – If yours is irregular, you may need to have your Total T3 and Free T4 checked as well.

If you’re already in the midst of perimenopause or menopause, here are other important tests to consider:

Bone Density

This test, also called a bone scan or DEXA scan, can reveal whether you have osteopenia or osteoporosis. When you enter perimenopause and menopause, the drop in estrogen can do a number on your bone mass. Don’t worry; the scan is quick and exposes you to very little radiation.

Cancer Marker for Ovarian Cancer

CA-125 (cancer antigen 125) is a protein best known as a blood marker for ovarian cancer. It may be elevated with other malignant cancers, including those originating in the endometrium, fallopian tubes, lungs, breasts and gastrointestinal tract. If your test comes back positive, don’t panic; this test is notorious for producing false positives!

Cholesterol

Like your moods, cholesterol levels change in perimenopause and menopause. An excess of cholesterol can build up artery plaque, narrowing blood vessels and potentially causing a heart attack. A cholesterol panel usually includes checking your HDL (high-density lipoprotein or the good cholesterol), LDL (low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol) and triglycerides (molecules of fatty acids). You’ll need to fast for 12 hours before this test (a perfect time to step on the scale!).

Vitamin D3

This vitamin helps maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, keeping your bones strong.

And one more suggestion…

Even during and following menopause, women still need to conduct a monthly breast self-exam and your annual mammogram. Woman should also schedule an annual checkup with a primary care physician, and an annual pelvic exam with your gynecologist.

Women and men also need to schedule a colonoscopy, according to the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.

Bottom Line: Remember that when you’re in perimenopause and menopause, it’s important to not only focus on “down there,” but on your body as a whole. That includes your mental and emotional health as well.

For more information on “down there”, I recommend my book, What’s Going On Down There- Improve Your Pelvic Health, available from Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Whats-Going-Down-There-Siddighi/dp/1477140220/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1442165577&sr=8-13&keywords=What%27s+Going+On+Down+There)

What's Going On Down There-Improve Your Pelvic Health (amazon.com)

What’s Going On Down There-Improve Your Pelvic Health (amazon.com)

BRCA Gene Mutation and What It Means For Men

May 18, 2013

Everyone knows that Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy as a prophylaxis against developing breast cancer. I think every woman can appreciate how brave she was to undergo the surgery but also how she put this issue on the map and increased the awareness of the BRCA gene. Since Angelina had the mastectomy she has reduced her risk of breast cancer from a dismal 87% to a manageable 5%. But what does the BRCA gene mean if a man carries the gene?

Men and women can inherit and pass on a BRCA mutation. Men with a BRCA mutation have a lower chance overall of developing cancer than do women with a mutation, but their chances of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and a few other specific cancers are increased.
Men with a BRCA gene mutation have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, prostate cancer and skin cancer (melanoma). In some men (and women), BRCA2 gene mutations have been associated with an increased risk of lymphoma, melanoma, and cancers of the pancreas, gallbladder, bile duct, and stomach. Furthermore, these cancers are more likely to develop at a younger age in men with a BRCA mutation. Men with a BRCA mutation have a lower chance overall of developing cancer than do women with a mutation

Both men and women carry the BRCA gene mutation and it is possible for men to inherit the mutated gene from a man’s father.

Men from families with a history of breast and ovarian cancer in the women in the family should consider testing for a BRCA gene mutation particularly if any of the breast cancers occurred before age 50 (in either female or male relatives). Men with breast cancer themselves are highly likely to have a BRCA mutation and should consider testing. Men who have prostate cancer and a family history of breast cancer should also think about testing for the mutated gene.

Men who know they carry a BRCA gene mutation can take proactive steps such as getting screened regularly for some of the cancers associated with the mutation, such as annual prostate cancer screening with a PSA test and annual skin examinations for melanoma. Men with a BRCA mutation should also seek medical advice about any changes in their breasts such as breast tenderness, discharge from the nipple or a breast mass or lump. Even more so, it is important to share this result with your family when you deem appropriate, as it may be life saving information to your sisters, mother and daughters.

Bottom Line: BRCA gene is certainly an important issue for women but it is also important for men as well. If you have a family member with breast or ovarian cancer especially if they have the cancer detected before age 50, then they should have a test for the BRCA gene.

Dr. Neil Baum is physician and the author of What’s Going On Down There, The Complete Guide To Women’s Pelvic Heath and is available from Amazon.com

What's Going On Down There-Improve Your Pelvic Health (amazon.com)

What’s Going On Down There-Improve Your Pelvic Health (amazon.com)

Cancer Prevention For Women-Listen To Your Body

February 23, 2012

Your body may be the best detective for discovering cancer This blog will provide tenant signs and symptoms that may help you discover cancer in the early stages when treatment is most likely to be successful.

Breast changes
If you feel a lump in your breast, you shouldn’t ignore it even if your mammogram is normal. If your nipple develops scaling and flaking, that could indicate a disease of the nipple, which is associated with underlying cancer in nearly 95% of cases. Also any milky or bloody discharge should also be checked out.

Irregular menstrual bleeding
Any postmenopausal bleeding is a warning sign. Spotting outside of your normal menstrual cycle or heavier periods should be investigated.

Rectal bleeding
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in women. One of the hallmarks is rectal bleeding. Your doctor will likely order a colonscopy.

Vaginal discharge
A foul or smelly vaginal discharge could be a sign of cervical cancer. And examination is necessary to determine if the discharge is due to an infection or something more serious.

Bloating
Ovarian cancer is the #1 killer of all reproductive organ cancers. The 4 most frequent signs of ovarian cancer are bloating, feeling that you’re getting full earlier than you typically would when eating, changing bowel or bladder habits such as urinating more frequently, and low back or pelvic pain. You can expect a pelvic exam, transvaginal sonogram, and perhaps a CA-125 blood test to check for cancerous cells.

Unexplained weight gain or loss
Weight gain can occur with accumulation of fluid in the abdomen from ovarian cancer. Unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more may be the first sign of cancer. Weight loss in women can also be due to an overactive thyroid gland.

Persistence cough
Any cough that lasts 2 or 3 weeks and is not due to an allergy or upper respiratory infection or a cough that has blood in the sputum needs to be checked. Also, smoking is the number one cancer killer in women.

Change in lymph nodes
If you feel lymph nodes in your neck or under your arm, you should be seen by your doctor. Swollen, firm lymph nodes are often the result of an infection. However, lymphoma or lung, breast, head or neck cancer that has spread can also show up as an enlarged lymph node.

Fatigue
Extreme tiredness that does not get better with rest should warrant an appointment with your doctor. Leukemia, colon, or stomach cancer-which can cause blood loss-can result in fatigue.

Skin Changes
Any sores irritated skin the vaginal area, or a non-healing vulvar lesion can be a sign of vulvar cancer.
Bottom Line: If you notice something different about your body, get it checked out. Most likely it’s not cancer, but if it is, cancer is treatable and often curable.