Diagnosing Ovarian Cancer
If you are concerned you either show symptoms of ovarian cancer or are at a higher risk of having the disease, visit your doctor. While also taking into account your family history, your doctor will diagnose ovarian cancer through one or several of the following methods:
Diagnosis Methods for Ovarian Cancer
During this exam, your doctor may press on your abdomen to check for tumors or an abnormal buildup of fluid (ascites). A sample of that fluid can be taken to look for ovarian cancer cells.
Your doctor feels the ovaries and nearby organs for lumps or other changes in their shape or size. (Pelvic exam is part of the Physical Exam)
Your doctor may order blood tests. The pathology lab may check the level of several substances, including CA-125, and other tumor markers.
- CA-125: CA-125 is a common biomarker for ovarian cancer. However, it is generally recommended to only screen for CA-125 in specifically indicated patients with signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer.
The ultrasound device aims sound waves at organs inside the pelvis. As the waves bounce off the organs, a picture is created based on the echoes and may reveal an ovarian tumor. For a better view of the ovaries, the device may be inserted into the vagina (transvaginal ultrasound).
A biopsy is the removal of tissue or fluid to look for ovarian cancer cells. Based on the results of the blood tests and ultrasound, your doctor may suggest surgery (a laparotomy) to remove tissue and fluid from the pelvis and abdomen to make a definitive cancer diagnosis. Ultimately, obtaining tissue for diagnosis is the only way to fully determine if a growth is cancerous and part of ovarian cancer.