Ovarian cancer: diagnosis

Any suspicion of ovarian cancer must immediately be investigated.

Ultrasound of the abdomen is the most useful first step to confirm that the suspicious mass is in the ovary, and show any fluid present.

CT or MRI scans will show any malignant spread in the belly. If these are found, scans of the liver, bones and brain may be done as well.

Some tumours of the bowel and breast spread to the ovaries, so these primary tumour sources must be excluded by mammograms, endoscopy or other studies.

Blood tests to measure CA 125 in postmenopausal women is a useful indicator, and can also be used to monitor progress with treatment. A full blood count and liver and kidney function tests are also needed.

Open surgery or laparascopy is done (unless patient circumstances prevent it) to:

- Obtain tissue samples for confirmation
- Remove as much tumour as possible
- Assess spread

Most surgeries will include hysterectomy and tubal removal.

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