See your GP if you have symptoms of ovarian cancer. They can do some initial tests and you may also need further tests in hospital.
Your GP may:
In some cases, you may be referred straight to a hospital specialist (usually a gynaecologist) for further tests without having a blood test.
If your GP thinks your symptoms could be due to ovarian cancer, they'll recommend having a blood test to check for a substance called CA125.
CA125 is produced by some ovarian cancer cells. A high level of CA125 in your blood could be a sign of ovarian cancer.
If the test finds a high level of CA125, you'll be referred for a scan to check for possible causes (see below).
Sometimes your CA125 level can be normal in the early stages of ovarian cancer. If you've had a normal test result but your symptoms don't improve, go back to your GP as you may need to be re-tested.
Lab Tests Online UK has more information on the CA125 test.
Your GP will arrange for you to have an ultrasound scan if your blood test suggests you could have ovarian cancer.
This is a type of scan where high-frequency sound waves are used to create an image of the inside of your body.
There are two ways it can be done:
The scan can show changes in your ovaries that could be caused by cancer or another problem such as endometriosis or a build-up of fluid.
If any abnormalities are found, you'll be referred to a specialist for further tests to confirm the cause (see below).
The following tests may be carried out by a specialist in hospital to confirm or rule out ovarian cancer:
If ovarian cancer is found, these tests can also help determine how far it has already spread.
If you're diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it will be given a "stage".
This describes the size of the cancer and how far it has spread. It can help your doctors plan the best treatment for you.
The four main stages of ovarian cancer are:
Your cancer will also be given a "grade". This is a way of describing how quickly the cancer is likely to grow or spread.
The grades range from grade 1 (more likely to grow slowly) to grade 3 (more likely to grow quickly).
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