Karen Collinson of Adlington, Chorley, was diagnosed with grade 3C low-grade serous adenocarcinoma of the ovary and peritoneum at the age of 47.
While ovarian cancer typically isn’t found through cervical screening, for Karen an unusual Pap smear was the first indication that something might be wrong. In 2008 her Pap smear found microscopic calcifications called psammoma bodies. She was told that they weren’t cancerous, but they could indicate cancer elsewhere. Her CA-125 at the time was 13 and an ultrasound showed no signs of ovarian cancer.
In 2012, her Pap smear showed psammoma bodies again, and while her CA-125 had risen to 30, it was still within what’s considered a normal range. However, she had also noticed that she was needing to urinate more frequently and was feeling more tired than usual – which can be symptoms of ovarian cancer.
“This time they consulted a cancer surgeon,” Karen said. “The scans showed nothing but as I was 47 they decided because I was perimenopausal anyway to do a hysterectomy. This is when they found the cancer. Like little grains of sand peppered all over my abdomen, ovaries, omentum, etc. I was petrified to say the least.”
Karen was put on the aromatase inhibitor Anastrozole, and told the cancer would likely recur. “It was traumatising and it stays with me to this day.” “There’s always the question will it come back that hangs over your head but I’ve been lucky to be clear for 10 years.”
“My message to people is, if you feel anything out of the ordinary, get checked.”