Biopsy for ovarian cancer
A biopsy is when doctors remove a small piece of tissue or a sample of cells from an area of the body. These are then sent to be checked under a microscope. This is how doctors find out whether an abnormal area or lump (tumour) is cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign).
Doctors also use the sample to get more information about the type of cell the cancer started from.
The biopsy is looked at under a microscope to check for cancer cells. The results of your biopsy also tell your doctor about the type and grade of the cancer.
Image-guided fine needle biopsy
A doctor (radiologist) or nurse numbs your skin using a local anaesthetic injection. They may also give you a sedative to help you relax.
They remove a small sample of tissue or cells from the abnormal area with the needle.
Sometimes they take a biopsy through the vagina, using an ultrasound scan to guide them to the area.
You usually stay in hospital for a few hours after this procedure. But sometimes you need to stay overnight.
Surgery to take biopsies
Laparoscopy (keyhole surgery) biopsy
A laparoscopy is done under a general anaesthetic. The surgeon makes 3 or 4 small cuts about 1cm long in your lower tummy area. They put a thin tube called a laparoscope through one of the cuts. This has a tiny camera on the end. It allows the surgeon to examine the area carefully and take biopsies.
You can usually go home the same day after a laparoscopy.
Sometimes you have an operation called a laparotomy to get a biopsy. The surgeon uses 1 larger cut to open the tummy and look inside. If they find a cancer, they may remove it. This is only done if you and your doctor have discussed it and you have agreed (consented) to it before the operation.
Below is a sample of the sources used in our ovarian cancer information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ledermann, Raja, Fotopoulou et al. Newly diagnosed and relapsed epithelial ovarian carcinoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Annals of Oncology, 2013; Volume 24, Supplement 6. Updated online 2020. Available from www.esmo.org/guidelines (accessed July 2021)
Management of epithelial ovarian cancer. Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN). Nov 2013 revised 2018. Available from www.sign.ac.uk.
This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Chief Medical Editor, Professor Tim Iveson, Consultant Medical Oncologist.
Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.
The language we use
We want everyone affected by cancer to feel our information is written for them.
We want our information to be as clear as possible. To do this, we try to:
- use plain English
- explain medical words
- use short sentences
- use illustrations to explain text
- structure the information clearly
- make sure important points are clear.
We use gender-inclusive language and talk to our readers as ‘you’ so that everyone feels included. Where clinically necessary we use the terms ‘men’ and ‘women’ or ‘male’ and ‘female’. For example, we do so when talking about parts of the body or mentioning statistics or research about who is affected.
You can read more about how we produce our information here.
How we can help
Chat online anonymously to others who understand what you are going through. Our community is available 24/7 and has dedicated forums where you can get advice and ask our experts.