What You Need to Know about Ovarian Cancer: How Is Ovarian Cancer Detected?

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Do you want to know how is ovarian cancer detected? The majority of women with ovarian cancer didn’t know they have ovarian cancer until cancer reaches an advanced stage (usually stage III or IV). This is, however, not surprising. The symptoms of ovarian cancer in its early stages in most cases are vague and not intense. During pelvic exams, ovarian cancer is also not detected. That is unless the doctor notices that the size of the ovary is enlarged.


The earlier ovarian cancer is detected and treated, the better the chance of survival of the patient. This is why it is crucial to detect cancer as early as possible. If you want to know the answer to “How is ovarian cancer detected?” just read on. We will tell you how.

Ovarian Cancer Detections

There are many ways to detect ovarian cancer. While there is no screening test that is always reliable to detect cancer, the following tests do help in detecting it. If you feel you experienced ovarian cancer symptoms, it is a good idea to take these tests.

Physical Examination

The doctor will see through your medical history and then perform a physical examination to search for signs of ovarian cancer. Common signs include enlarged ovary and ascites (fluid in the abdomen). If the doctor suspects you have ovarian cancer based on the symptoms you experienced and the physical examination, they will do further tests to confirm it.


Often times, ultrasound is the first test done when a problem with the ovaries suspected. Ultrasound is commonly used to test woman with high risk of ovarian cancer and/or abnormal pelvic examination. This test is useful in examining the size of the ovary and how it looks inside, finding an ovarian tumor if there is any and also seeing if the tumor is made of a solid mass or it is a cyst filled with fluid.

Blood Test

A blood test is done to check the level of a protein known as CA-125. CA-125 is a protein that is produced by ovarian cancer cells. If you have a high level of CA-125, you may be referred to a specialist (gynecologic oncologist) by your doctor.

Imaging Tests

MRI scans, CT scans, and Ultrasound studies can be used to confirm whether you have a pelvic mass or not. However, these tests cannot verify whether the mass found is cancer. That being said, these tests will be helpful if what the doctor wants to know is whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.


Laparoscopy uses a thin, lighted tube with which a doctor can see at the ovaries and other pelvic tissues and organs. The thin, lighted tube is inserted through a small cut in the lower abdomen. The tube then sends the images of the area to a video monitor. This test provides the doctor with a view of the organs, which can help confirm how far the tumor has metastasized, plan removal surgery and/or other treatments. Biopsy (removal of a small sample from the suspected area) can also be done during this test.

These are the answers to “How is ovarian cancer detected?” If you experienced ovarian cancer symptoms, talk about it with your doctor and take the tests to confirm it. Remember, early detection means a better chance of survival.

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