When cancer returns after a period of remission, it is considered a recurrence. A cancer recurrence happens because some cancer cells were left behind and eventually grew.
Many women with ovarian cancer may experience a recurrence or multiple recurrences. For this reason, ovarian cancer is sometimes referred to as a chronic disease as the treatment can be ongoing for many women.
The cancer may come back to the same place as the original tumour or to another site in the body. Symptoms that can signal recurrence include:
elevated CA125 level
While the CA125 level may be elevated, you might be feeling well and be without symptoms. Even with the physical exam or with imaging studies it may not be possible to identify the site of recurrence. Doctors refer to this as “no evidence of disease”. Women with ovarian cancer have expressed how using CA125 can be helpful in alleviating their anxiety.
A rising CA125, however, does not always mean that treatment should begin again. Whether to use the CA125 or to monitor for possible recurrence on the basis of symptoms needs to be discussed with your gynecologic oncologist. Together you will decide whether you should take a watchful waiting approach or begin a course of treatment.