What tests help detect ovarian cancer?

Ajay K. Sahajpal, MD
Transplant Surgery
Typically, a thorough history and physical from your medical professional can lead one to suspect this. Then imaging tests such as an ultrasound and/or CT scan can be done along with tumor markers, including CA 125.
Diagnostic equipment and surgical procedures may help detect and diagnose ovarian cancer:
  • Ultrasound: uses sound waves to view internal body structures and to examine blood flow in different areas of the body. It can be used to view the uterus and ovaries.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): used to view biochemical changes in the body to detect cancerous tumors. It may also be used to determine if a tumor is benign or malignant. 
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: combines multiple x-rays to provide three-dimensional clarity and show various types of tissue, including blood vessels. CT not only confirms the presence of a tumor but can show its precise location, size, and involvement with adjacent tissue.
  • CA-125 test: This blood test looks for elevated levels of a substance that could indicate the presence of cancer.
  • Laparoscopy: Through a few tiny incisions, a magnifying scope and tiny instruments can be inserted into your body to view suspicious growths or obtain a biopsy, which is a small sample of tissue, for examination.
  • Biopsy: To obtain a small tissue sample for microscopic examination, a biopsy may be performed through minimally invasive laparoscopy, open-incision surgery or percutaneously (through your skin with a special needle).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.