How is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed and Detected

Learn how is Ovarian Cancer diagnosed and detected at early stages. Ovarian cancer can be diagnosed by several procedures. Here are the procedures on how is ovarian cancer diagnosed.

Ovarian cancer is cancer in women that begins in the female reproductive organ, ovaries. A woman has two ovaries that are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries not only produce eggs but also responsible for producing female hormones. If Ovarian Cancer is diagnosed and detected at earlier stage, its treatment is more effective.

In the United States, ovarian cancer is the 8th most common type of cancer in women. It is the 5th deadliest cancer in the world. One in every 60 women in the USA will develop ovarian cancer. Most ovarian cancers are diagnosed in women over 60, but this disease can also affect younger women.

Ovarian cancer is more common in older women. About 90 percent of women who get ovarian cancer are older than 40, with the greatest number being age 55 or older.

Tumors in the ovaries are of two types. One is benign, which means they are non cancerous. Other is malignant, which means they are cancerous. Last Stage Ovarian Cancer is called Metastasis Ovarian Cancer. It is the ovarian cancer stage when cancer spreads from ovary to other parts of the body.

How is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed and Detected

Unfortunately, ovarian cancer is diagnosed in advanced-stage (Stage III) in most of the women. This is because the ovarian cancer symptoms in the early stages are very mild.

How is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed and Detected

There is no still no single exact and accurate test for ovarian cancer diagnosis for women with no apparent sign and symptoms. Let’s have a look at how is Ovarian Cancer diagnosed and detected with exam, serum, radiology or surgical procedures currently:

Oncologist Consultations

You will be referred to a specialist which is a gynecologic oncologist is an obstetrician/gynecologist who is trained in treating cancers of the female reproductive system. The specialist will give you a full briefing about ovarian cancer treatment and how they can help the patients to live longer.

Physical Exam

At first, your history will be taken, and then you will undergo a physical exam. This physical exam is to look for any sign and symptom of ovarian cancer. If you are suspected to have ovarian cancer based on the examination, further tests will be in place.

Pelvic Exam

Women age 18 and above should have a mandatory annual Pelvic exam. While, for women age 35 and above an annual recto-vaginal exam is recommended. However, in most cases, ovarian cancer is not detected during routine pelvic exams, unless the doctor notes that the ovary is enlarged.

Blood Tests

Your doctor will suggest you to take a blood test to look for inhibin and hormones increased. It can be a sign that you have ovarian stromal tumors if the level of inhibin and hormones such as estrogen and testosterone is high.

CA-125 Test for Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis: This blood test determines if the level of CA-125, a protein produced by ovarian cancer cells, has increased in the blood of a woman at high risk for ovarian cancer or with an abnormal pelvic examination. Though, CA-125 is an important blood test, it is not always accurate, as some non-cancerous diseases can also increase the CA-125 levels.


This procedure is to examine the colon to see if any cancer spreading in that area. Rectum will be inserted using a long and flexible tube with a video camera into the colon to collect images.


This procedure is included inserting a tube through a small cut or incision in the lower abdomen because the specialist looks from the view of the organ before planning the surgery or other treatments. This procedure is also can determine what stage of the cancer.


This procedure is involves collecting samples from the suspected area and then examine the samples using a microscope. The tissue or fluid samples obtained are sent to the laboratory to look for cancer cells. The samples are taken using paracentesis procedure, which is the tissue taken from the skin, and the fluid is from the lungs.

Radiology Imaging Tests

This imaging test is to find out if the ovarian cancer has spread or called metastasized to your tissues and organs. The tests are such like MRI scans, CT scans, Barium enema x-ray, PET scan and also ultrasound studies.

  1. Ultrasound

    This type of scan is also called ultrasonography, is the use of sound waves in order to create an image.  Usually this is the first test for suspected cases, to see an ovarian tumor and how big it is.

    Transvaginal Ultrasound Sonography (TVUS): Ovarian Cancer can be diagnosed with TVUS. This ultrasound, performed with a small instrument placed in the vagina, is appropriate especially for women at high risk for ovarian cancer or for those with an abnormal pelvic exam.

  2. Computed Tomography (CT) Scans

    This is an x-ray procedure using a machine and the scanner will take many pictures while rotating around you. It can see only larger tumors, showing signs of spreading to other organs and it takes longer time.

  3. Barium Enema X-Ray

    This type of x-ray is to ensure if the cancer has invaded the colon as well. This test is rarely used and replaced with Colonoscopy instead.

  4. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scans

    This type of scan is using radio waves instead of x-rays. The pattern from the MRI scans showing the pattern that formed by normal tissue or ovarian cancer. However, this type of scan is also not used often for this type of cancer.

  5. Chest X-Ray

    This is necessary when the specialist wants to determine the ovarian cancer metastasized to the lungs. The x-ray will show the amount of pleural effusion, a type of fluid that releases by the tumor in the lungs.

  6. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scans

    This is an expensive type of scan for ovarian cancer and it is using radioactive sugar to spot the small collections of ovarian cancer cells. It is effective to find the smallest spot, but it is so expensive and it is not covered by insurance.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) do not recommend Ovarian Cancer Screening in women not at high risk. Unnecessarily procedure and tests conducted to Diagnose Ovarian Cancer can have repercussions. Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis methods like pelvic exams, ultrasound and blood tests and invasive surgical procedures can lead to other risks and complication. Furthermore, there are chances of false positive results, which can lead to wrong diagnosis. Therefore, Ovarian Cancer Diagnostic test must be conducted when advised by a qualified Gynecologist or Oncologist.

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