Diagnosis and Stages of Ovarian Cancer

To find out if you have ovarian cancer, your healthcare provider may order exams and tests. They will also do a physical exam and ask you questions about your health history, risk factors, symptoms and family history. You may have one or more of the following diagnostic tests:

  • Pelvic exam: During this exam, your doctor will feel for any abnormal lumps or masses by placing a gloved finger inside your vagina while using the other hand to gently press on your abdomen.
  • Ultrasound: This test uses sound waves to check your ovaries for tumors by using a probe that shows images on a video screen.
  • Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan: Using a combination of X-rays and software, this test allows doctors to see images of your organs, bones and other soft tissues inside your body.
  • Tumor marker blood test: This test measures a protein in the blood called CA-125. A high level of CA-125 is often found in the blood of women with ovarian cancer, but it can also be elevated by other conditions. If you have ovarian cancer, your doctor may also use this test to monitor the progress of your treatment.
  • Genetic testing: The test looks for gene changes that might put you at risk for cancer. It can be done using saliva, blood or a sample of the tumor.

Learn more about diagnostic tests and our center’s overall diagnosis process.

Stages of Ovarian Cancer

After being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, our pathologists will determine the stage of your cancer. Staging your cancer involves determining the size of the tumor and how far it has spread in your body. Knowing the stage of your cancer will help your health care team decide how best to treat it, including whether your cancer can be removed (resected) with surgery. You may need additional tests to help our team assign a stage to your cancer.

The stages of epithelial ovarian cancer are:

  • Stage I: The cancer is in one or both of the ovaries. Cancer cells may be growing on the surface of the ovaries, inside the ovaries or in fluid that surrounds the abdomen.
  • Stage II: The cancer is in one or both ovaries and in other areas in the pelvis. Cancer cells may be in the fallopian tubes, uterus or other areas in the pelvis and in the tissue or fluid that surrounds the abdomen.
  • Stage III: The cancer has spread from the ovaries to the abdomen or nearby lymph nodes. Cancer cells may also have spread to the outside of the liver.
  • Stage IV: The cancer has spread to other areas of the body, such as the as the liver, the lungs or in the fluid around the lungs.

Learn more about the stages of ovarian cancer.

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