Nina Hobson swaps her role as Inside Out reporter,
to share with us her frightening and very moving experience of ovarian
When Nina was 18 months old, her grandmother died of ovarian
cancer. More recently, her mother died of the same disease. Nina therefore
runs a high risk of developing the disease too.
After developing abdominal pain,
Nina took action and went to visit her GP.
No available testing
Nina was shocked to learn screening is not readily available
for this type of cancer.
At the moment, only breast cancer and cervical cancer
are routinely screened for.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, yet
ovarian cancer is more common than cervical cancer.
Nina’s GP explained that as yet, there is no reliable
test for ovarian cancer. So instead, Nina is referred to a genetic counsellor.
Like Nina, you may be forgiven for imaging that genetic
testing would involve a simple blood test. Genetic counsellor Ann Kershaw
explains that the procedure is far more complicated than that.
|Both Nina's mother
and grandmother suffered from Ovarian cancer|
A blood sample from an affected family member is first
required in order for the gene fault to be identified. Once the gene fault
is detected, they can then test the patient's blood to see if they too
carry the gene responsible.
Without blood from an affected family member, the process
becomes almost impossible.
Both Nina’s mother and grandmother died from the disease,
making genetic counselling little help in this case.
Left with no option, Nina pays privately for an ovarian
scan and within two weeks is in hospital awaiting surgery for suspected
A league table of cancer types
and incident rates for women in Norfolk.
Simon Crocker, consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician
explains that in high risk families, any abnormality is acted upon immediately. Simon says;
"From a practical point of view, we are taking away all
Nina goes into surgery unsure whether she will need
a hysterectomy, but with even the slightest chance of cancer, she knows
the surgeons will take no risks.
Once out of surgery, Nina’s worst fears are confirmed.
Finding several cysts on her ovaries and an enlarged area, surgeons were
forced to carry out a hysterectomy. Understandably, this is devastating
news for Nina;
"Knowing I can no longer have children is hard .. I’ve got two lovely kids and I should be grateful for that, but
it doesn’t make it any easier and I’m really struggling."
|Nina has two
children, but that doesn't make her hysterectomy any easier to deal
To make her decision all the more difficult to deal with,
Nina’s ovaries turn out to be free from cancer. Unfortunately surgery
was the only way of discovering this. Although as Nina reasons, "It was
too big a risk to do nothing."
Just four weeks after the operation, Nina returns to work
and life begins to return to normal. Developing ovarian cancer was a risk
too big to ignore.
Nina can now look forward to a healthy life free from
the fear of ovarian cancer. She hopes that future medical developments
will bring a screening test to save other women going through a similar
"I’m going to move on from this and be strong and if
this video helps just one person deal with what we’ve dealt with over
the past few weeks, then it’s been worth every second…
"Maybe we’ve all learnt to expect too many medical
miracles, but that doesn’t stop me hoping that history won’t repeat itself
for my children."