Ovarian Cancer (cont.)
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Exams and Tests for Ovarian Cancer
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Many exams and tests are used to determine if a woman has ovarian cancer.
Physical exam: Every woman should have an annual pelvic exam in which the health care provider feels (palpates) the ovaries and obtains a Pap smear (Papanicolaou test).
Ultrasound: If a mass is present, the health care provider may recommend an ultrasound examination to find out what kind of mass it is.
Many studies have reviewed the value of ultrasound screenings for ovarian cancer of women who have no symptoms. Although ultrasound identified many masses, very few of these masses (about one in 1,000) were cancerous. Furthermore, many women underwent unnecessary surgeries only to discover benign masses.
CT (computed tomography) scanning: If ultrasound reveals a solid or complex mass, a CT scan of the pelvis may be done.
The health care provider also conducts lab tests to gather information about the woman's medical condition and to detect substances released into the blood by ovarian cancers (tumor markers).
The health care provider may request a pregnancy test if there is any chance the woman could be pregnant. Pregnancy can be detected by checking the blood level of beta-HCG, a hormone that increases dramatically during pregnancy.
The woman's blood will probably also be checked for tumor markers. Health care providers suspicious that ovarian cancer is present usually conduct the CA-125 test.
Healthcare professionals do not recommend genetic screening for women with no first-degree relative, or only one relative, with ovarian cancer.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/9/2015
Robert P Edwards, MD
Jana M Lee, MD
Paul Blackburn, DO, FACOEP, FACEP
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Lee P Shulman, MD
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