How is ovarian cancer diagnosed?
It’s much easier to treat ovarian cancer when your doctor diagnoses it in the early stages. You can try getting checked for a number of cancers but, it’s not easy to detect cancers such as this.
Why? Well, remember that your ovaries are situated deep within the abdominal cavity, so you’re unlikely to feel a tumor. More specifically, there’s no routine diagnostic screening available for ovarian cancer.
Your best shot is to always report unusual or persistent symptoms to your doctor.
If your doctor is concerned that you have ovarian cancer, they’ll likely recommend a pelvic exam. Performing a pelvic exam can help your doctor discover irregularities, but small ovarian tumors are very difficult to feel.
As the tumor grows, it presses against the bladder and rectum. Your doctor may be able to detect irregularities during a rectovaginal pelvic examination.
Your doctor may also do the following tests:
- A transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) is a type of imaging test that uses sound waves to detect tumors in the reproductive organs, including the ovaries. However, TVUS can’t help your doctor determine if tumors are cancerous or not.
- Your doctor may order an abdominal and pelvic CT scan. If you’re allergic to dye, they may order an MRI.
- A blood test to measure cancer antigen 125 (CA-125) levels is useful in assessing treatment for ovarian cancer as well as other reproductive organ cancers. However, menstruation, uterine fibroids, and uterine cancer can also affect levels of CA-125 in the blood.
- A biopsy involves removing a small sample of tissue from the ovary and analyzing the sample under a microscope. A biopsy is the only way your doctor can confirm whether or not you have ovarian cancer.