The path to making an ovarian cancer diagnosis usually begins when a physician notices an enlarged ovary while performing a pelvic examination on a woman, or if there are signs of swelling and fluid accumulation in her abdomen. Because early symptoms are often vague, it is vital for a woman to be aware of changes in her body and to promptly see a physician when she notices anything out of the ordinary, such as pelvic pain or abdominal bloating. When these types of symptoms are present, a physician will likely begin with a pelvic exam and order tests for further evaluation.
Typically, in order to establish an ovarian cancer diagnosis, a physician will:
- Examine a woman’s vagina, uterus and ovaries.
- Order imaging tests of a woman’s abdomen and pelvis, such as a transvaginal ultrasound or CT scan, which can reveal the size, shape and structure of her ovaries.
- Order a blood test, which can detect a certain protein (CA-125) that is found on the surface of ovarian cancer cells (but does not conclusively indicate the presence of cancer).
If any of these tests are positive, a physician might request additional CT scans and X-rays for further evaluation. To confirm an ovarian cancer diagnosis, a physician will usually perform a biopsy to obtain small samples of tissue and abdominal fluid. A pathologist will then study the samples under a microscope to look for the presence of cancer cells.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, our extensive research efforts have been recognized by the National Cancer Institute, which has designated Moffitt a Comprehensive Cancer Center – the only one based in Florida. We are proud that our cancer survival rates consistently outrank national averages, and we aim to provide our patients with a better quality of life.
For more information about ovarian cancer diagnosis, and to schedule an appointment, please contact us at 1-888-MOFFITT or access our online form. We accept patients without referrals.