What You Need To Know About Ovarian Cancer

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How is ovarian cancer diagnosed?

Research has shown that there are basically 3 methods which are currently used to establish whether ovarian cancer may be present, and could possibly lead an early diagnosis.

These are an internal pelvic exam, a transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) and the CA-125 blood test.

  • During a pelvic examination, the doctor will feel the ovaries and the uterus for size and shape. The pelvic examination is always a good idea because it may pick up other cancers at an early stage, but unfortunately most early ovarian cancers may be difficult to feel. However, investigating other possible reproductive cancers may also help to diagnose early ovarian cancer.
  • TVUS is an ultrasound process that involves inserting an ultrasound wand into the vagina and using sound waves to look at the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. This examination can find a tumour in the ovary, but cannot actually identify whether it is cancerous or not.
  • The CA-125 blood test is one of the tumour markers used to detect cancer in the body, and to monitor the progress of cancer treatment. In many women with ovarian cancer, the CA-125 levels are high, and is a useful tumour marker to monitor the success of treatment in those known to have ovarian cancer. If the treatment is working, the level of CA-125 usually decreases.

Unfortunately, this method of screening for ovarian cancer is not always full-proof, as there are other conditions which may also cause high levels of CA-125. Although the tumour marker CA-125 blood test can be effective, it would appear that the pelvic examination, or the transvaginal ultrasound, may be better options to diagnose suspected ovarian cancer.

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