Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer

A diagnosis of ovarian cancer will be made by your physician after ruling out other causes of your symptoms. Some of the tests for ovarian cancer include:

  • Pelvic Examination: The outer parts of the genitals or vulva are carefully examined. The uterus and ovaries are carefully palpitated and felt for abnormalities. A speculum is inserted into the vagina to allow the physician to visually check the vagina and the cervix for any abnormalities.
  • Trans-Vaginal Ultrasound: High frequency sound waves are used to produce and record images of the ovaries and the uterus. This is accomplished by the insertion of an ultrasound probe into the vagina. The images can help identify any abnormalities like tumors which may be present.
  • Surgery: If other tests suggest the presence of cancer, surgery may be recommended to confirm the findings. A gynecologic oncologist will make an incision into the abdomen and explore the abdominal cavity for evidence of cancer. Tissue and fluid samples may be collected for analysis and an ovary removed for examination by a pathologist. In certain cases, several smaller tools and a tiny camera may be inserted through several small incisions instead of a large one. If cancer is detected, the surgeon may immediately try to remove as much of the cancer as possible.
  • CA 125 blood Test: Most women with ovarian cancer have abnormally high levels of the protein CA 125 in their blood. Not all cases of high CA 125 levels are attributable to ovarian cancer and so this test is not used as a diagnostic or screening test. It can be used however, to monitor the progress of treatment.