Women who have been treated for ovarian cancer who have a recurrence are considered to have cancer that falls into one of three categories: persistent, refractory or recurrent.
Persistent cancer persists after surgery and first-line chemotherapy. In refractory cancer, the cancer continues to progress despite receiving treatment. In recurrent cancer, the cancer went into remission for months or even years but then recurred.
Many women do not become diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the early stages because the symptoms are not clear cut.
Recovery rates are lower when the ovarian cancer is diagnosed in the later stages.
“Despite recent improvements, initial or first-line chemotherapy fails to produce a remission in more than 70% of patients with ovarian cancer. Furthermore, approximately 40-50% of the women who do achieve a remission after first-line chemotherapy will experience a recurrence of cancer within 3 years,” according to Texas Oncology.
How is recurrence diagnosed?
Some women have a return of symptoms that are similar to the ones they originally had, such as abdominal bloating or back pain. Others do not develop symptoms. Recurrence of ovarian cancer is detected by using a number of tests.
CA-125 is a blood test for a biomarker that shows elevated levels of a glycoprotein associated with tumor growth. These levels will be checked.
Elevation may be due to other causes, so the CA-125 blood test is not alone diagnostic for ovarian cancer.
Abnormal X-rays, PET or CT scans, as well as a biopsy from a second-look laparotomy may be performed.
Treatment is individually planned, depending on which of the type of ovarian cancer the woman has. There are other determinants as well.
What stage was the cancer in? Was there a remission and for how many months?
1) Recurrent Ovarian Cancer. Texasonlcology.com. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
2) Olivia W. Foley, BS et al. Recurrent Epithelial Ovarian Cancer: An Update on Treatment. Review Article | April 15, 2013 | Oncology Journal, Gynecologic Cancers, Ovarian Cancer.
3) Why has the cancer come back? Target Ovarian Cancer.org.uk. Retrieved September 18, 2016.