Top Doctors: 5 fast facts on ovarian cancer

Andrew W. Menzin, M.D., FACOG,FACS, associate chief of

Andrew W. Menzin, M.D., FACOG,FACS, associate chief of gynecologic oncology, North Shore-LIJ Health Systems, vice chairman for academic affairs, Dept. of Ob/Gyn, North Shore- LIJ Medical Centers, shown with a colposcope in an exam room. (July 12, 2011) (Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile)

Among all the various types of cancer that can strike the female reproductive system, ovarian cancer kills the most women in the United States. It often isn't detected until it's too late.

But in many cases, treatment can allow women to live for several years or even longer.

 


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Here's what you should know:

1. OVARIAN CANCER IS DIFFICULT TO DETECT EARLY ON

"Early detection usually means a better chance to eradicate the problem and minimize its reoccurrence," said Dr. Andrew Menzin, associate chief of gynecologic oncology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset and Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park. But women with ovarian cancer rarely have noticeable symptoms early on, he said, and physicians typically don't detect it if there aren't symptoms.

"The ovaries are deep inside the female body, and they're difficult to feel," Menzin said. Also, he said, changes in the body that can lead to cancer may be hard to detect because they're microscopic.

2. KEEP AN EYE ON SUBTLE SYMPTOMS

"Ovarian cancer doesn't scream at you. It whispers," said Dr. John Lovecchio, chief of gynecologic oncology at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center. "Some whispers are very subtle, like abdominal pain, urinary frequency, changes in dietary habits, change in bowel habits, increasing abdominal girth."

Some of these symptoms can be normal parts of aging, but women should get examined if they appear quickly and persist over three or four weeks.

3. YOUR GENES MATTER

"When it comes to prevention, the best thing to do is to identify whether you have a hereditary predisposition," Menzin said.

A family history of certain kinds of cancer -- including ovarian, breast and colon -- can boost your risk for ovarian cancer, as can having certain genetic traits. If you're concerned, "you should discuss it with both your gynecologist and primary care physician and seek a genetic evaluation," Menzin said.

Also make sure to let your doctors know about your own history of cancer, if you have one. The doctor might be able to prescribe birth control pills to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, Lovecchio said.

4. BE CAUTIOUS OF SCREENING TESTS

A blood test known as CA-125 is best used to track the progress of women with ovarian cancer, Menzin said. Some doctors recommend it to women as a screening tool to detect ovarian cancer, but he said it can miss signs of disease.

Lovecchio said the test is "useless" as a screening device because it can be misleading. "It should never be used for screening -- looking for disease."

5. TREATMENTS ARE AVAILABLE

Chemotherapy and surgery are the most common treatments for ovarian cancer, which frequently spreads. "Despite the fact that two-thirds to three-quarters of women with ovarian cancer are found with advanced disease, the overwhelming majority of women achieve a response to surgery and chemotherapy," Menzin said. "On some level it's remarkable, because we're talking about disseminated cancer having pretty good response rates. Yet the overall survival rate is not nearly what we would hope for."

This is the fourth installment of a 26-week series in which Newsday presents Castle Connolly's list of top L.I. doctors. Today: medical oncologists and gynecological oncologists

 

Gynecologic oncologists

 

Dr. John Lovecchio

North Shore University Hospital

300 Community Dr.

10 Monti

Manhasset

516-562-4438

Dr. Andrew Menzin

North Shore University Hospital

300 Community Dr.

10 Monti

Manhasset

516-562-4438

Dr. Michael Pearl

3 Edmund D. Pellegrino Rd.

Stony Brook

631-444-2989

 

Medical oncologists

 

Dr. Birjis Akhund

Huntington Medical Group

180 E. Pulaski Rd.

Huntington Sta.

631-425-2280

Dr. Francis Arena

1999 Marcus Ave.

Lake Success

516-466-6611

Dr. Thomas Bradley

Monter Cancer Center

450 Lakeville Rd.

Lake Success

516-734-8900

Dr. Daniel Budman

Monter Cancer Center

450 Lakeville Rd.

Lake Success

516-734-8900

Dr. Rocco Caruso

2500 Nesconset Hwy.

Stony Brook

631-751-8305

Dr. Marc Citron

Pro Healthcare Assoc.

Division Oncology

2800 Marcus Ave.

Lake Success

516-622-6150

Dr. John Fiore

Memorial Sloan Kettering at Suffolk

650 Commack Rd.

Commack

631-623-4100

Dr. Richard Gralla

Monter Cancer Center

450 Lakeville Rd.

Lake Success

516-734-8966

Dr. Alexander Hindenburg

Winthrop Oncology/

Hematology Associates

200 Old Country Rd.

Mineola

516-663-9500

Dr. Bruce Kappel

40 Crossways Park Dr.

Woodbury

516-921-5533

Dr. Leonard Kessler

242 Merrick Rd.

Rockville Centre

516-536-1455

Dr. John Marino

2001 Marcus Ave.

Lake Success

516-883-0122

Dr. Bhoomi Mehrotra

Long Island Jewish Medical

270-05 76th Ave.

New Hyde Park

718-470-8934

Dr. Stanley Ostrow

235 N. Belle Mead Rd.

East Setauket

631-751-5151

Dr. Hasan Rizvi

180 E. Main St.

Bay Shore

631-666-0262

Dr. Paula Schwartz

3003 New Hyde Park Rd.

New Hyde Park

516-354-5700

Dr. Barry Strauss

353 Meeting House Lane

Southampton

631-283-6611

Dr. Frank Tomao

2001 Marcus Ave.

Lake Success

516-883-0122

Dr. Vincent Vinciguerra

450 Lakeville Rd.

Monter Cancer Center

Lake Success

516-734-8954

Dr. Jen Chin Wang

5 E. Walnut St.

Long Beach

516-889-7447

Dr. Rita Weiss

107 Northern Blvd.

Great Neck

516-482-0080

Dr. Lora Yung

Monter Cancer Center

450 Lakeville Rd.

Lake Success

516-734-8963

 

How they were picked

 

 

Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. is a health care research and information company founded in 1991 by a former medical college board chairman and president to help guide consumers to America's top doctors and hospitals. Castle Connolly's established survey and research process, under the direction of a doctor, involves tens of thousands of doctors and the medical leadership of leading hospitals.

Castle Connolly's team of researchers follows a rigorous screening process to select doctors on national and regional levels. Using mail and telephone surveys, and electronic ballots, they ask physicians and the leadership of top hospitals to identify exceptional doctors. Careful screening of doctors' educational and professional experience is essential to the committee. Not every good physician makes the list. Rather, the list is a way for patients to get started on their search for the best medical professional. Newsday is not part of the selection process.

Doctors do not and cannot pay to be selected and profiled as Castle Connolly Top Doctors.

 

To see the whole list . . .

 

 

Who else is on the list of Top Doctors? More than 6,000 listings are in the New York Metro Area edition of "Top Doctors," published by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. The softcover list price is $34.95. For more information, go to castleconnolly.com, or call 800-399-DOCS.

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