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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How is ovarian cancer diagnosed?

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    There is no screening test available for ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is usually detected by a combination of several tests and examinations. The final diagnosis always requires the pathological analysis of a tissue sample.

    • Physical examination: A general check up, including an internal pelvic examination.
    • Blood tests: A full blood count may be done and a measure of the blood protein CA 125, which is often raised in women with ovarian cancer. Other special ‘tumour markers’ may also be tested for, but some tumours will not have elevations of these markers and the type of marker depends on the type of tumour.
    • Imaging tests: A chest and/or abdominal x-rays and an ultrasound scan of the pelvis are usually done. Ultrasound scanning cannot give a definite diagnosis though. A CT scan may see if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, but this cannot definitely diagnose ovarian cancer either.
    Biopsy: This is sometimes done during the operation. A sample of tissue is sent to the laboratory to be looked at under the microscope to confirm or exclude the diagnosis

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