Having tests for ovarian cancer
There are some tests that you might have at your doctor's or at hospital, to help them to see if you have ovarian cancer.
So I went for an ultrasound scan and this was this would have been about six weeks after my nineteenth birthday so I went for the ultrasound scan and then that evening after I had the scan the Doctor, my GP called at the house to say that they'd found a large ovarian cyst.
If you think you might have some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer you should go to your GP. They'll be able to talk to you about your symptoms. If they think these could be because of cancer, they can do tests to find out more.
These might include:
- a blood test
- an ultrasound of the ovaries
- an internal examination, to check the organs in your pelvis.
For an internal examination, you lie on your back with your feet together and your knees apart. The doctor will gently put one or two fingers inside your vagina and press a little on your lower tummy. It shouldn’t be painful but it can feel uncomfortable.
This test might make you feel embarrassed, but doctors are used to doing this investigation and it’s over quickly. If a male doctor examines you, there will usually be a female nurse present, but if not you can ask for one. You can have someone you feel close to with you during the examination, or if you prefer you can ask whoever is with you to go out until it’s over. You can do whatever makes you feel most comfortable.
After these tests your GP may arrange for you to see a doctor at the hospital who specialises in problems of the reproductive system (a gynaecologist).
The specialist will carry out an internal examination to check if there’s anything unusual in the shape and position of your ovaries and womb. Your GP may have already done an internal examination. We've explained what happens above.
The specialist will arrange for you to have some tests. Different tests are used to diagnose germ cell tumours of the ovary:
- Blood tests check for chemicals in the blood called tumour markers. Some germ cell tumours produce high levels of these.
- Ultrasound scans use sound waves to build up a picture of your ovaries and the area around them on a computer screen. The person doing the scan will rub some gel on your tummy and gently move a small device over your tummy to produce the picture. You may also have an ultrasound scan done through the vagina (transvaginal ultrasound), to get a clearer picture. A small probe about the size of a tampon is gently put inside your vagina. It’s not painful but it can be a bit uncomfortable. You can have someone with you during the test if you want to.
- CT scans take a series of x-rays, which build up a 3D picture of the area of the body being scanned. It can show up the size and position of a tumour.
- Laparoscopy is a test that’s sometimes done to look inside your tummy at your ovaries. It’s done under a general anaesthetic. You can usually go home the same day. The surgeon makes 3-4 small cuts in the skin in your lower tummy (just above the bikini line). Then they put a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end (called a laparoscope) through one of the cuts to look at the ovaries. Sometimes the surgeon will remove the ovary at the same time as the laparoscopy but they will discuss this with you before you have the surgery. The removed ovary will be looked at under a microscope to find out exactly what type of tumour it is.
Having tests and waiting for the results can be an anxious time. Talking about how you feel and getting support from family, friends, your specialist nurse or your doctor can help.
This information is about having tests for ovarian cancer. We've got more information about:
If you're looking for information about ovarian cancer in women of all ages, please see our ovarian cancer section.