Ovarian cancer refers to cancer that originates in the ovaries. This type of cancer has very few distinct symptoms and hence is often difficult to diagnose. In fact, only about 20% of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed in the early stages. An early diagnosis is key to treating cancer and curing it. Testing for ovarian cancer begins with a physical examination. The doctor will check your pelvis for an enlarged ovary as well as the presence of fluid in the abdomen.
Imaging Testing for Ovarian Cancer
In addition to a physical examination, a few other additional imaging tests may also be required. These tests take pictures of the inside of the pelvic cavity. Different types of imaging tests may be used to diagnose ovarian cancer. This includes:
- An ultrasound that creates an image of the organs in the pelvic cavity with the help of sound waves. There are two types of ultrasounds external and internal ultrasounds
- A computed tomography (CT) scan is used to capture the images of large tumours and to see if cancer has spread to other organs
- A Barium enema x-ray or Colonoscopy is used to see if cancer has spread to the colon or rectum
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans use magnets to create a cross-sectional image of the body
- A Chest x-ray is used to check if cancer has metastasized to the woman's lungs
- A Positron emission tomography (PET) scan is used to spot small tumours in the ovaries
A biopsy is also a part of the ovarian cancer diagnosis. This involves taking a small sample of cells from the affected areas and examining them under a microscope. This may be performed after a tumour is removed or by removing a few cells with an injection that is guided by a CT scan or ultrasound.
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