At this time, ovarian cancer screening exams are generally recommended only for women who are known to have an elevated risk of developing the condition. The reason is that no currently available screening technique has proven to be reliable enough for detecting early-stage ovarian cancer to warrant its regular use by those not experiencing any symptoms. However, any woman who has questions or would like to learn more about her own ovarian cancer risk level is welcome to consult with the experienced specialists in the ovarian cancer program at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL, where we offer all aspects of cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and support in a single, convenient location.
Regardless of whether ovarian cancer screening is recommended, Moffitt encourages every woman to protect herself by learning to recognize early signs of the condition, such as persistent abdominal bloating, pressure in the pelvic region and unusual vaginal bleeding. Equally important, a woman should become familiar with her own body so that she knows what is normal for her. Armed with this knowledge, she will be better able to identify possible signs of ovarian cancer and bring them to the attention of a medical professional who can determine if and when further testing is warranted.
In lieu of a standardized ovarian cancer screening plan, the multispecialty team at Moffitt may recommend one or more diagnostic tests to detect the condition in women who are currently displaying symptoms. Some options that are currently available at our campus in Tampa, Florida, include:
- Pelvic examination – A healthcare practitioner inserts one or two gloved fingers into the vagina, then uses the other hand to apply gentle pressure to the lower abdomen in order to feel the ovaries and uterus to assess their size, shape and consistency.
- Transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) – After inserting a small, lubricated transducer into the vagina, a medical professional uses this specialized medical instrument to generate sound waves, which are then used to create detailed images of the reproductive organs.
- CA-125 blood test – This test measures the blood level of a certain protein known as CA-125. Ovarian cancer can sometimes cause the CA-125 concentration in the blood to increase.
Ovarian cancer affects the lives of many women and their families. In general, the earlier the condition is found, the better the outcome will likely be. Right now, the research team at Moffitt recognizes the fundamental challenge of detecting ovarian cancers as early as possible, and this is something that we will continue to explore as we work toward our goal of one day finding a cure.
If you’d like to discuss ovarian cancer screening options and your individual risk profile with a gynecologic oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center, you can request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing a new patient registration form online. We welcome new patients — both with and without referrals — at our campus in Tampa, FL.