Diagnosing ovarian cancer
At the hospital, your gynecologist will ask you about your health and whether you have any illnesses; you will also be asked about history of cancer in your family.
You will then be asked to have a number of tests such as a blood test (to check on your CA 125 levels), an ultrasound, and possibly a CT scan.
This is when a doctor examines your vagina and uterus. Medical staff will settle you into a chair, and then the doctor will examine your vagina and uterus. The doctor may then put a speculum into your vagina. This helps keep the vagina walls apart during the examination and also to check on your cervix.
The examination is usually not painful, though some women feel some discomfort in the area because of the speculum.
A blood tests will be performed to check whether you have increased levels of a protein called CA-125. Though it is normal to have this protein in the blood, women who have ovarian cancer frequently have high levels of this protein.
The level of this protein may be elevated due to other, non-cancerous conditions or because of other types of tumors.
An ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of the surrounding organs within the abdomen and pelvis. For a pelvic ultrasound, you must be sure to drink water so that your bladder is full; this makes for a clearer image.
The ultrasound probe is placed in your vagina in order to get a clear image of the inside of the uterus and ovaries. Unlike a pelvic ultrasound, vaginal ultrasound scans are a bit more painful and uncomfortable for patients.
In this test, a series of x-rays is taken, creating a 3-D image of the inside of your body. It takes from 5 to 15 minutes and is painless.
You may be given a drink or an injection with a dye, which makes it possible to see certain areas more clearly. This may make you feel hot for a few minutes. It is important that you inform your health professionals if you are allergic to iodine or have asthma, as you may have a reaction to the injection.
CT scans can also be used as a guide during biopsies.
- Laparoscopy: With this operation, the surgeon can see the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. Four or five small incisions are made in the abdomen, and a laparoscope is inserted inside one of the holes and surgical instruments are inserted in the others. Recovery from laparoscopic surgery is normally faster.
- Laparotomy:This is done under general anesthesia. With this surgery, an incision in made in your abdomen in order to see and examine the ovaries and other adjacent organs.