Human Epididymis Protein 4 (HE4)

Human Epididymis Protein 4 (HE4) – that’s quite a mouthful isn’t it? I have just read on cancernetwork.com – Home of the Journal Oncology (June 18, 2013) about this marker, which may be useful in diagnosing women with early stage ovarian cancer.

For many years, serum cancer antigen 125 (CA-125) was the only available serum marker, and unfortunately this marker was not elevated in up to 50% of stage I ovarian cancers. The review by Simmons and colleagues in this issue of ONCOLOGY describes another serum marker for ovarian cancer. This marker, human epididymis protein 4 (HE4), when combined with CA-125, may result in improved early diagnosis. HE4 appears to complement CA-125 by being more often elevated in early ovarian cancer.

This information contrasts with a study reported in the British Journal of Cancer in March 2011, which indicates that the combination of HE4 and Ca125 testing does “not increase the detection of malignant disease compared with CA125 alone”.

The February 2013 update on www.uptodate.com (Evidenced-Based Clinical Decision-Support At The Point of Care) has further, more positive information on this combination of tests.

Emla – The Wonder Cream!

Emla CreamIs you skin particularly sensitive? Do you hate needles? Is the area over your port now really painful?

I was having a very hard time with the needles (especially into my port) until one of the nurses reminded me about Emla Cream. I had forgotten that a friend of mine used it when she was going through treatments for colon cancer some years back. Emla is a topical anesthetic for freezing that small area of skin where the needles goes in. It is often used by diabetics. The chemo nurses advised me not to use it on my hand (not sure why) but it works wonders over ports.

It is applied to the area some time before the needle is inserted so I would do it before I left home in the morning. It took me a little while to figure out the timing that worked for me – I seemed to need it on longer than recommended in order to feel nothing when the nurses did their work. You layer it on, don’t rub it in or smooth it over, and cover it with a special bandage. Make sure you get some large enough from the pharmacist.

You don’t need a prescription for it, just ask the pharmacist. It is quite expensive but well worth it if you have trouble with needles!

NOTE: I have no commercial connection with Emla – I just love it as a consumer and think others should know about it.