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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is there a routine test for ovarian cancer?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1


    A not-for-profit national organisation that provides support and advocacy for people affected by ovarian cancer. View Profile

    There is no screening test available for ovarian cancer.

  • 4


    Dr David Rosen

    Gynaecologist, Laparoscopic Surgeon

    Dr David Rosen is a Specialist Endoscopic (Keyhole) and Robotic Surgeon with expertise in; Prolapse and Incontinence surgery, Endometriosis, menstrual disorders including complicated Hysterectomies by … View Profile

    Current recommendations are that ovarian cancer screening is not cost-effective and therefore, the best test is regular bimanual examinations from your GP or gynaecologist. They will palpate the uterus and ovaries to feel for enlargement. Many people ask about blood tests however these so called ovarian tumour markers are not indicated for making a diagnosis but rather for assessing the risk of an ovarian mass bbeing benign or malignant once it is discovered, or for following progress after treatment if a cancer is removed.

    Routine ultrasounds, whilst the best tool for finding ovarian masses, would end up costing a great deal for a cancre that affects only 1% of women (compared with 10% for breast cancer) and more problematic, would find a great deal of ovarian “lesions” that would be further investigated and often result in a great deal of anxiety and then invasive surgery for something that never needed investigation in the first place.

    That said, many women see me because a close friend was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer which is often late stage by the time of diagnosis, or they have a family history, and despite everything said above, if you are concerned or troubled by this issue you should discuss it further with your gynaecologist as regular specialist surveillance or even prophylactic laparoscopic removal of ovaries, especially in the post-menopausal woman, is relatively straightforward in appropriate hands.

  • Maria Nguyen

    HealthShare Member

    I recently read in the news that a blood test for early detection of ovarian cancer being developed by Australian researchers could be available within five years. 

    That new blood test hopefully should be able to save more women's lives from ovarian cancer.
    Read more here:

  • Dr Joseph Jabbour

    Gynaecologist, Gynaecologist - Infertility (IVF) Specialist, Obstetrician

    Dr Joseph Jabbour is a specialist Obstetrician & Gynaecologist and Fertility Specialist with Monash IVF situated in Sunnybank (Brisbane Southside). Dr Jabbour has had the … View Profile

    A large UK study looking at ovarian screening test utilizing CA-125 in an algorithm that tests the fluctuations of CA-125 over time has shown a role to screening women. ROCA test or the Risk of Ovarian Cancer Algorithm is now being used and involves the level of CA-125, age of woman and menopausal state... The study enrolled 200,000 women. Depending on the results of the ROCA test, a pelvic Ultrasound scan is done and a risk is stratified. The findings are promising as it showed a reduction in ovarian cancer. This is not available in Australia yet.

    There were some negative results to point out: 

    1- there was a false negative rate which is a big problem as some cancers were not picked up.

    2- there was a false positive rate which led to unnecessary surgery.

    Nevertheless, the findings led to the following result: for every 10,000 women screened 15 ovarian deaths can be prevented. 

    Jacobs IJ et al.: Ovarian cancer screening and mortality in the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS): a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, 17 December 2015 (open access).

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