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Ovarian Cancer Early Detection Is Vital to Survival

Ovarian Cancer Early Detection Is Vital to Survival

Recognize the signs and symptoms of this disease in women.

September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month — a perfect time to learn more about this devastating disease.
Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, and is the deadliest of the gynecologic cancers, with a five-year survival rate of 46 percent. Because of the location of the ovaries in the body, most ovarian cancers are not diagnosed until the late stages. When diagnosed in the early stages, the percentage of survival is much higher, at 91.2 percent. A woman’s lifetime risk for developing ovarian cancer is 1 in 75, and approximately 22,000 new cases will be diagnosed, this year. It’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of this silent killer.
Ovarian cancer can be hard to detect in the early stages, which is when only approximately 19 percent of diagnoses happen. Most signs and symptoms do not happen until the disease has progressed and tumors have begun to push on the bladder and/or fluid has begun to accumulate in the abdomen. Symptoms of ovarian cancer that may help to detect early stages of the disease include:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
  • Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often

Other symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Upset stomach or heartburn
  • Back pain
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Constipation or menstrual changes

Individually these symptoms may not stand out as a problem, but if any of them persist for more than two weeks, see a doctor immediately.
Pap smears do not test for ovarian cancer. The best way to diagnose the disease when there are no symptoms is to undergo annual rectal and vaginal pelvic examinations. If an irregularity is suspected, a transvaginal ultrasound (76830 Ultrasound, transvaginal) can be performed to view the ovaries. If there is a family history of ovarian cancer, some doctors may decide to take a tumor marker. The most common tumor marker is the blood test CA-125 (86304 Immunoassay for tumor antigen, quantitative; CA 125). Genetic testing may also be done to detect if a woman has Lynch Syndrome or a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation (the same mutation seen by some breast cancer patients). Women who test positive may be advised by their doctor to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound and a CA-125 test, yearly.

Diagnosis and Procedural Coding

ICD-10 codes:
C56- Malignant neoplasm of ovary
C56.1 Malignant neoplasm of right ovary
C56.2 Malignant neoplasm of left ovary
C56.9 Malignant neoplasm of unspecified ovary
Z80.41 Family history of malignant neoplasm of ovary
Z84.81 Family history of carrier of genetic disease (BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation) (Lynch syndrome)
Genetic testing CPT® codes:

CPT® Codes Test Name
81211, 81213 BRCA1/2: Comprehensive BRCA analysis by gene sequencing with deletion/duplication analysis
81212 BRCA 1/2: Ashkenazi Jewish 3-site mutation analysis
81215, 81217 BRCA1 or BRCA2 specific site analysis
81211, 81213 BRCA1, BRCA2 (eg, hereditary breast and ovarian cancer) gene analysis common and uncommon duplication/deletion variants
81288 MLH1 (mutL homolog 1, colon cancer, nonpolyposis type 2) (eg, hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer, Lynch syndrome) gene analysis; promoter methylation analysis
81292-81294 MLH1 genetic testing code range
81295-81297 MSH2 genetic testing code range

Hope Is in Sight

Those who find themselves with an ovarian cancer diagnosis may feel like there are no options; however, there are hundreds of research studies and clinical trials around the world to help doctors and researchers learn more about this disease. In August 2015, Stand Up to Cancer announced a new Ovarian Cancer Dream Team to focus on DNA repair therapies using a $6 million grant over three years. Bringing more awareness to this disease through organizations such as Stand Up to Cancer will help with early detection.

Spread Awareness

I dedicate this article to my mother Denese Kromminga, who passed away February 4, 2016, on World Cancer Day. Last year, I wrote about using my billing and coding skills to help my mom through her cancer diagnosis and treatment (I Am AAPC, July 2015, Now that she has lost her battle, I am spreading awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer in hopes of increasing the rate of early detection. To learn how you can help spread awareness, check out the following groups:

  • National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC®):
  • Norma Leah Ovarian Cancer Foundation™:
  • Ovarian Cancer National Alliance:

American Cancer Society®, Lynch Syndrome page
Norma Leah Ovarian Cancer Foundation, Detection page
Stand Up to Cancer

Bridget Toomey, CPC, CPB, CRCR, works for the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Patient Financial Services as a revenue cycle coordinator, where she supervises staff on the physician Iowa Medicaid team. She is a member of the Iowa City, Iowa, local chapter.

Bridget Toomey
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Bridget Toomey, MS, CPC, CPCO, CPB, CPPM, AAPC Fellow, RYT-200, is the assistant department administrator of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of Iowa Health Care. She is a certified Kundalini yoga teacher and serves as the wellness ambassador for the department of ob-gyn. Toomey received her Master of Science in Health Care Management from Johns Hopkins University. She is a member of the 2022-2025 National Advisory Board and former president of the Iowa City, Iowa local chapter.

No Responses to “Ovarian Cancer Early Detection Is Vital to Survival”

  1. Tracie Ramsey CPC, CPMA says:

    Florence Northern Kentucky Local Chapter is holding a meeting Tuesday May 2nd on Women Wellness and Awareness. . We have a member that just went through the toughest year of her life. Had a 15lb cyst removed from her destroyed left ovary. They found carcinoma cells in the biopsy and she had to go through treatment. As of today she shows no cancer cells in a PET SCAN, no signs of Ovarian Cancer….Praise the Lord! She is willing to talk to the chapter members about her experience and share all her documentation; tests, doctor appointments, medications prescribed, Pathology Reports and the OP report …we are going to try and code “Michelle’s Mass” as a way to make the meeting interactive. We believe that a first hand experience presenter will make the information more personal and retained better.

  2. Janine defeo says:

    If you were to take a poll 10 people to see how many people know the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer I can betit would be 2 out of 10. It’s time to educate and it needs to start with our OB/GYN’s. I’ve been spreading awareness for years now. It takes a village and I’m more than willing to help. Please contact me. #tealbutterflychallenge

  3. Bridget Toomey says:

    These are both Great Tracie and Janine! So glad to connect with women helping other women know the signs and symptoms! We have had a speaker come the last two September chapter meetings to talk about ovarian cancer. I recently found out I was selected as an Advocate Leader through the OCRFA. making this my life journey!!