NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Ovarian Cancer - page 18

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Part 2: Initial tests for ovarian cancer
NCCN Guidelines for Patients
®
: Ovarian cancer
Version 1.2013
Blood tests are also used to look for tumor markers—
substances found in body tissue or fluid that may be a sign
of cancer. CA-125 (
c
ancer
a
ntigen 125) is a tumor marker
for ovarian cancer. It is a protein with sugar molecules
attached to it that is made by normal cells as well as
ovarian cancer cells. High levels of CA-125 in the blood
may be a sign of ovarian cancer. This test is not used
alone to diagnose or confirm ovarian cancer. But, it may be
done along with other initial tests if your doctor suspects
ovarian cancer. It may also be done after treatment to
check that the treatment was effective.
Review of tumor tissue
Ovarian cancer may have already been confirmed by
a previous surgery or tests. In this case, your cancer
doctors will need to review the previous test results
and use a microscope to look at the tumor tissue that
was removed. Your doctors will also want to know if
the previous surgery left any cancer in your body. A
pathologist will examine the tumor tissue to make sure
it is ovarian cancer. A pathologist is a doctor who’s an
expert in testing cells to find disease. All of this will help
your current doctors plan treatment.
Next steps:
If the results of these tests suggest that you
have ovarian cancer, then your doctor may recommend
that you see a gynecologic oncologist before beginning
cancer treatment. A gynecologic oncologist is a doctor
who is an expert in treating cancers that start in the
female reproductive organs. Your doctors will then use
the initial test results to plan treatment. This is discussed
next in Part 3.
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