Ovarian cancer is contracted by around 7,000 women in the UK each year. It generally affects older women and develops when the cells of the ovary start to grow in a rapid and out of control way. There are a number of symptoms associated with ovarian cancer including a bloated stomach, irregular periods and abdominal pain. If you notice any of these symptoms then you should go see your doctor right away. They will then be able to perform the necessary tests. In this article I will be discussing five of these tests.
1) PHYSICAL EXAM:- The first ovarian cancer test your doctor will recommend is a physical exam. This will be performed by either your doctor or a gynaecologist and will involve them placing one or two gloved fingers in to the vagina. They will then put their other hand on the lower abdomen to feel the position, shape and size of the ovaries. If this test reveals any abnormalities your doctor will then suggest further testing.
2) BLOOD TEST:- Certain types of ovarian cancer produce a protein called CA125. Therefore, a blood test that reveals higher than normal levels of this protein may be an indicator for this type of cancer. However, there are other conditions such pelvic inflammatory disease that can cause blood levels of CA125 to be elevated so whilst this test can indicate ovary cancer it is not a certainty.
3) ULTRASOUND SCAN:- This test involves using sound waves to build an image of your ovaries. This image can then be investigated to see if your ovaries look normal. It can also reveal whether any lumps found are fluid or solid. If any sold lumps are found they may be cancerous and will require further investigation.
4) LAPAROSCOPY:- This ovarian cancer test involves a small incision being made in the abdominal wall whilst you are under general anaesthetic. An instrument called a laparoscope (a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end) is then inserted in to this incision and this transmits an image of your ovaries on to a screen. Your doctor can then look at this image for any abnormalities which could potentially be cancerous. Most laparoscopes can also be used to take a tissue sample and these tissues can then be tested in a laboratory to see if they are cancerous.
5) ABDOMINAL FLUID ASPIRATION:- A swollen stomach is a potential sign of ovary cancer. If your stomach does become swollen then this fluid will need to be removed. To do this your doctor will give you a local anaesthetic, insert a long, thin needle in to your abdomen and drain the fluid in to a container. This fluid can then be examined in the laboratory for the presence of cancer cells.
I hope this article has given you a greater understanding of the possible tests for ovarian cancer. This type of cancer is much more treatable in the early stages so if you have any reason to believe you may be suffering from this disease go and ask your doctor about testing. They will then be able to recommend the most suitable test and determine whether you have contracted ovary cancer.
Whilst every intention has been made to make this article accurate and informative, it is intended for general information only. Ovarian cancer is a very serious, life threatening condition and you should discuss any concerns, treatments or lifestyle changes fully with your doctor.