Part 2: Initial tests for ovarian cancer
NCCN Guidelines for Patients
: Ovarian cancer
Imaging tests take pictures of the inside of your body.
Doctors use these tests to view the mass (tumor) in your
pelvis and determine how large it is. Imaging tests alone
cannot confirm if a tumor is cancer. But, they can show
where the tumor is located, if the cancer has spread
beyond your ovaries, or if cancer treatment worked.
Imaging tests of your chest are recommended,
and imaging tests of your abdomen, pelvis, and GI
ntestinal) tract may also be needed. There are
many different types of imaging tests. Imaging tests used
for ovarian cancer may include ultrasound, scans, and
scopes. These tests are often easy to undergo. Before
the test, you may be asked to stop eating or drinking for
several hours. You also should remove any metal objects
that are on your body.
Ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to take
pictures of the inside of the body. It is often the first
imaging test given to look for ovarian cancer. Ultrasound
is good at showing the size, shape, and location of the
ovaries, Fallopian tubes, uterus, and nearby tissues.
A hand-held device called a transducer bounces sound
waves off organs in a certain area of your body to make
echoes. It has a cord attached to a computer and display
screen that shows the images (pictures) made by the
echoes, called a sonogram.
There are two types of ultrasounds that may be used
to look for ovarian cancer: transabdominal ultrasound
and transvaginal ultrasound. For a transabdominal
ultrasound, your doctor will hold the transducer against
your skin and guide it back and forth across your belly
and the area between your hip bones. A gel rubbed over
the area of your skin helps to make the pictures clearer.
See Figure 4. For a transvaginal ultrasound, your doctor
will insert the transducer into your vagina. This may help
the doctor see your ovaries more clearly. See Figure 4.
Ultrasounds are generally painless. But, you may feel
a little discomfort when the transducer is inserted for a
transvaginal ultrasound. Depending on the area of your
body being looked at, an ultrasound can take between
20 and 60 minutes.