Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Your doctor is likely to start with a pelvic examination:

  • The outer part of your genitals is carefully inspected.
  • The doctor then inserts two gloved fingers into the vagina and simultaneously presses a hand on your abdomen to feel your uterus and ovaries.
  • A device (speculum) is inserted into the vagina so that the doctor can visually check for abnormalities.

Your doctor also may recommend:

  • Imaging tests, such as ultrasound or CT scans, of your abdomen and pelvis. These tests can help determine the size, shape and structure of your ovaries.
  • Blood test, which can detect a protein (CA 125) found on the surface of ovarian cancer cells.
  • Surgery to remove a tissue sample and abdominal fluid to confirm a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Minimally invasive or robotic surgery may be an option. If cancer is discovered, the surgeon may immediately begin surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible.

Staging ovarian cancer

Doctors use the results of your surgery to help determine the extent — or stage — of your cancer. Your cancer's stage helps determine your prognosis and your treatment options.

Stages of ovarian cancer include:

  • Stage I. Cancer is found in one or both ovaries.
  • Stage II. Cancer has spread to other parts of the pelvis.
  • Stage III. Cancer has spread to the abdomen.
  • Stage IV. Cancer is found outside the abdomen.
Jun. 12, 2014

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