By Marla KrauseSpecial to the TribunePublished May 27, 2007
The e-mail starts out innocuously enough; it's from a female friend concerned about health issues. But the type is big, so you quickly get the message that THIS IS IMPORTANT.Did you know, it asks, that there is a simple blood test for ovarian cancer that your doctor is not telling you about and that your insurance company doesn't want to pay for? And, it goes on, because the writer of this e-mail was denied the test, she is now battling peritoneal cancer, a disease similar to ovarian cancer that attacks the stomach lining.
But what appears to be the kind of information that gives women nightmares is really an urban legend, according to gynecologists, medical Web sites and Gilda's Club, a support community for people with cancer founded in memory of comedian Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer in 1989."I have seen a version of this e-mail for many years," said Karyn Grimm Herndon, an ob-gyn with practices in Evanston and Glenview. "The CA-125 test is almost never an appropriate first-line test for ovarian cancer. If a person has risk factors, like a mother or a sister with ovarian cancer, or has previously been diagnosed, this test might be used, but it is not a recommended screening test for the average person.""We have gotten calls in the past about this e-mail story," said LauraJane Hyde, CEO of Gilda's Club Chicago. "We are all for a call to action that empowers women, but alarmist tactics like this don't help what we do."