DEAR DR. ROACH: Regarding blood tests for ovarian cancer, there is a new test called OVA-1. I believe this new blood test is for ovarian cancer in its early stages. — P.J.G.
ANSWER: Ovarian cancer is a difficult disease to diagnose and treat, because it may have no symptoms in its early stages and because the symptoms can easily be overlooked or mistaken for something else. Much effort has been put into finding a reliable, useful test to diagnose ovarian cancer early.
The test you mention, OVA-1, is a combination of five different blood tests used to create a single score that can tell a doctor how likely an ovarian mass is to be ovarian cancer. This can help the doctor choose the right kind of surgery to be done. The OVA-1 test, like its predecessor the CA-125 test, is not a test that should be used for someone with no known problems who is worried about ovarian cancer. The OVA-1 test just isn’t designed to be used that way.
Unfortunately, there still isn’t a good early screening test for ovarian cancer.
DEAR DR. ROACH: My older daughter, 12½ , has some gray hair — not a patch, just random here and there. It seems like there are more and more as she is going through puberty. I had all her bloodwork done (thyroid, B-12, everything you can imagine), and she is totally normal, even normal hearing. I also took her to a dermatologist to rule out vitiligo/alopecia or other, and the results were all clear. Also, my 10-year-old has strands as well.
You should know that I started going gray early, even before 20. It runs in my family. My mom went gray early. Is it just genetics? Any thoughts? It doesn’t seem like something that doctors or even pediatricians are very expert on.
Thank you so much. — Anon.
ANSWER: Hairs turn white when the individual hair follicles lose their ability to make pigment. The hair appears gray because the white hairs are right next to the colored ones. This happens with normal aging, and it accelerates the older we get. Ten and 12 are indeed quite young, but I think you are right that it’s a family issue. I’ve known people who were completely white-headed in their 20s, and they don’t otherwise have any medical concerns.
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have an irritated taste bud right on the tip of my tongue, and it’s driving me crazy. Is there anything I can do to make it go away faster? What makes a taste bud swell up like they do? — A.A.
ANSWER: There are several possible causes for an inflamed or irritated part of your tongue, or papillitis. Most often, these are caused by trauma, so the first part of the solution is don’t traumatize them more! Leave them alone.
Second, cold water or ice can make it feel better quickly. Some people find that saltwater or mouthwash gargles help. Just be patient.
TO READERS: The booklet on heart attacks, America’s No. 1 killer, explains what happens, how they are treated and how they are avoided. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Roach — No. 102, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Health newsletters may be ordered from www.rbmamall.com.