What Tests Are Used?
When a woman experiences concerning symptoms, a pelvic exam, including a rectal exam and total body physical exam should be performed. Sometimes the exam can be normal, but if the symptoms are suspicious enough, then in these cases, these women should undergo a transnational pelvic ultrasound to evaluate the ovaries, or they may need a CT scan to look for distant disease. Sometimes it may be reasonable to wait two or three weeks to see if the symptoms resolve.
A blood test for CA 125 may be performed. CA 125 can be used as a marker to follow ovarian cancer. It is not a screening tool. It is a marker for inflammation, and it can be elevated in about 80% of women with advanced stage ovarian cancer. But it can also be elevated in about 1% of normal women with a variety of reasons, such as fibroids, menses, endometriosis, et cetera.
If ovarian cancer is suspected or diagnosed, it is really important to seek care first from a gynecologic oncologist like myself. We are medical doctors with specialized training in treating gynecologic cancers, and we can manage care from diagnosis to the completion of the treatment.
1. When symptoms are concerning, a pelvic exam is performed including a rectal exam and total body physical exam.
2. If the exam is normal, but the symptoms are suspicious, they should undergo a transnational pelvic ultrasound or a CT scan.
3. A blood test for CA 125 may be performed but it is not a screening tool.
4. If ovarian cancer is suspected or diagnosed, it is really important to seek care first from a gynecologic oncologist.