Testing for Ovarian Cancer
What Kinds of Screenings Can be Performed to Determine if Ovarian Cancer Exists?
Ovarian Cancer screenings can involve a blood test, an ultrasound, or both. The blood test used most often is called CA 125.
CA 125 Blood Tests: CA 125 is a protein in the blood that goes up when a woman has ovarian cancer. The trouble is, this protein also goes up when a woman has other health problems that do not involve cancer. The test can help find ovarian cancer, but is not 100% accurate.
Pelvic Ultrasound: During a pelvic ultrasound, an ultrasound technician will insert a small device similar to a tampon into your vagina. The device uses sound waves to create images of the inside of your body. Ultrasounds can find abnormal growths on the ovaries, but they cannot tell whether the growths are caused by cancer. Sometimes less serious health problems, or even normal changes that happen during a woman’s menstrual cycle, can cause these “growths”.
Who Should be Screened for Ovarian Cancer?
If you have a family history of ovarian cancer or have genes that put you at risk, discuss the pros and cons of screening with your doctor to determine if screening is right for you. The main benefit of screening is that it might help doctors find cancer early, when it should be easier to treat. With Ovarian Cancer, the earlier the diagnosis, the better the prognosis.
What if My Screening Test is Abnormal?
If your test is abnormal, don’t panic. Many women who have abnormal results turn out NOT to have ovarian cancer. You will need more tests to find out whether or not you actually have cancer.
Most women with abnormal results find out they do not have cancer after further testing. But some women with abnormal results (in 1 study, about 1 in 3 women) need surgery to know for sure if they have cancer. This surgery is usually done through small incisions, using a tool called a “laparoscope.”
Always seek the advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions.
Source: www.update.com©2015 UpToDate® Patient Information: Ovarian cancer screening (The Basics)