Ovarian cancer can only be positively diagnosed through a biopsy

Ovarian cancer is difficult to diagnose. There are no screening tests for ovarian cancer. Many women mistakenly believe a Pap Test screens for ovarian cancer. In rare instances, it can detect the disease but the Pap Test is used to screen for cervical cancer.

Currently, there is no widely-used early detection test for ovarian cancer. There are tools and procedures that medical professionals can use to determine the likelihood of ovarian cancer. However, without pathology studies from cells removed during a biopsy or surgery, an ovarian cancer diagnosis cannot be positively confirmed. 

Early diagnosis can save your life

If your medical provider suspects you have ovarian cancer, the only way to positively determine its presence is by examining the cells. Before a definitive diagnosis  can be made, your provider may order a number of additional tests and procedures, including:

  • Imaging tests, such as a CT scan, MRI or PET scan
  • Biopsies obtained through aspiration, paracentesis or surgery
  • Additional blood tests that identify a variety of molecular properties known to exist when ovarian cancer is present.

Click here for a list of other tumor marker tests that can be used to indicate that you might have ovarian cancer

If ovarian cancer is suspected, there are additional tests that can indicate the likelihood of ovarian cancer cells and/or the risk of malignancy. These tests can help your doctor determine the next steps in treating the disease.

A gynecologic oncologist will give you the best outcome

If ovarian cancer is suspected or cannot be ruled out, your best chance for survival is to be treated by a gynecologic oncologist. They have additional medical training and are specialists in the field of female reproductive cancers. They are board-certified for debulking surgery and are FIVE times more likely to completely remove ovarian cancer cells during surgery. Research shows that women who are referred to gynecologic oncologists for surgery live 30% longer than those who are not seen by one.

Understanding the stages of ovarian cancer 

STAGE I: The cancer is contained within one or both of the ovaries; cancer cells may be found in the abdomen.

STAGE II: The cancer has spread beyond the ovaries into other areas in the pelvic region: Fallopian tubes, uterus, bladder, colon, rectum.

STAGE III: The cancer has affected areas outside the pelvis and be found in the lining of the abdomen and/or the lymph nodes.

STAGE IV: The cancer has moved to other organs, such as the lung, liver and or lymph glands in the neck.