DAN Medical Frequently Asked Questions

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Ovarian Cancer

I have a patient with Ovarian Cancer who is a diver. Can she return to diving?

Ovarian tumors may be malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). Tumors may be solid or a hollow sac (cysts). Cysts are sometimes filled with fluid and usually are the non-cancerous form of an ovarian tumor. Ovarian tumors are not all that uncommon. There is no reliable testing or screening for ovarian cancer. Diagnostic tests CA 125 and ultrasound are often recommended but have a very high false positive false negative, but tests may register as abnormal in many other diseases besides ovarian cancer. Pap smears occasionally can have pieces of calcium on then called psammoma bodies, which can be indicative of ovarian tumors.

Fitness and Diving Issue
In respect to diving, the major concern would be the effects on the body from the surgery and/or radiation/chemotherapy treatments. First, if surgery was done, complete healing to have taken place in the site of the incision. Strength and general feeling of well being back.

Cytotoxic drugs (chemotherapy), have unpleasant side effects such as nausea and vomiting, and a prolonged course of therapy usually results in greatly decreased levels of energy due to their cytotoxic effects. This makes diving while experiencing such side effects unadvisable. Some of these drugs can cause pulmonary toxicity and patients can have residual pulmonary functional impairment for a year or longer after they have finished treatment. Pulmonary function studies may be necessary to verify adequate ventilation and clear pulmonary airway passages.