Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis
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Video: The Importance of Accurately Diagnosing & Staging CancerLearn about the importance of an accurate cancer diagnosis.
The Importance of Accurately Diagnosing & Staging Cancer
Dr. Timothy McCay explains why it’s important for doctors to accurately diagnose and stage each patient’s cancer.
Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer
At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), our team of cancer doctors uses sophisticated, minimally invasive technology to detect tumors, and to determine the type and stage of ovarian cancer. This helps us to formulate an individualized treatment plan that is best suited for your needs.
During your first visit, you’ll undergo a comprehensive exam to determine whether the ovarian cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or any other part of the body. If you’ve been treated at another hospital, we will make sure that you have received a correct ovarian cancer diagnosis.
Throughout your treatment, we will use a variety of diagnostic tests for ovarian cancer, including imaging and laboratory tests. This will help your care team monitor how the ovarian cancer is responding to treatment. If the cancer is resisting treatment, we will modify your treatment plan or recommend using a different therapy.
How Is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed?
Ovarian cancer typically does not cause symptoms in the early stages. Instead, it is often detected once the disease has progressed and a pelvic mass has been discovered. The following tests are often the first step in diagnosing ovarian cancer:
- Pelvic Exam: Your doctor may examine the abdomen and pelvic area for any nodules or bumps, which are explored in greater detail with imaging technology.
- CA-125 Test: Your doctor will perform this blood test to measure the level of a protein called CA-125 in the blood. High amounts of CA-125 may indicate ovarian cancer, as well as less serious conditions, such as endometriosis or inflammation in the abdomen. We combine this test with other screening methods.
We continue to measure CA-125 levels during treatment to monitor how you are responding. If test results show that protein levels in the blood are rising, we will perform further testing and change your treatment plan if needed.
Imaging & Diagnostic Tests for Ovarian Cancer
When diagnosing ovarian cancer, we use these imaging tools to confirm that a pelvic mass is present, and to detect if it has spread beyond the ovaries:
Ultrasound - This imaging technology uses sound waves to create an image of your internal organs, including the ovaries. The sound that tumors produce is different than healthy tissues, which helps us identify an ovarian tumor. We also use transvaginal Doppler ultrasound to measure increased blood flow to the ovaries, another indicator of cancerous tissue.
Video: CT Scan Medical AnimationMedical animation
CT (Computerized Tomography) Scan – This imaging tool is one of the best modalities we have to help our teams make an accurate ovarian cancer diagnosis. A CT scan reveals a detailed, 3D image of the ovaries and abdomen. After a physical exam and ultrasound have been performed, we use a CT scan to locate a tumor before surgery. We also use a CT scan to determine tumor size, what other organs might be affected and whether lymph nodes are enlarged.
Understanding the extent of the disease helps us formulate the right treatment plan before going into surgery.
Video: Discovery PET\/CT 600 scannerLearn about the Discovery PET\/CT 600 scanner
PET/CT (Positron Emission Tomography/Computerized Tomography) – This technology shows what is happening in the body at a cellular level, before any tumors may be present. We will use PET/CT to investigate rising CA-125 levels or a suspicious spot on a CT scan, to determine whether there is cancerous activity in the ovaries or elsewhere in the body.
Video: MRI Medical AnimationMedical animation
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) – This imaging technique uses radiofrequency waves to create a detailed, cross-sectional image of the ovaries and surrounding tissues. An MRI has much greater soft tissue contrast than a CT scan, making it especially useful in detecting tumors and metastases in other parts of the body.
Gynecologic Oncology at CTCA
After these tests have been performed, surgery is often the first line in treating and diagnosing ovarian cancer. In most cases, a woman has surgery to remove the mass and properly diagnose the cancer. A gynecologic oncologist performs these surgeries and cares for a woman throughout ovarian cancer treatment.
Next Topic: Ovarian Cancer Staging