Part 6: Follow-up tests
NCCN Guidelines for Patients
: Ovarian cancer
The chart on page 55 describes the follow-up tests
recommended after you complete treatment for ovarian
cancer or borderline ovarian cancer. Generally, the same
tests used to find the cancer are also used for follow-up
after treatment. (See details of initial tests on page 12.)
A physical and pelvic exam assesses the size, shape,
firmness, and location of organs in your pelvis and
abdomen. This helps your doctor check for physical
signs that the cancer has come back, such as abdominal
swelling or bloating, unusual lumps, or sudden changes
Follow-up CA-125 blood tests are recommended if your
CA-125 levels were high when the cancer was first found.
This test is important to watch for rising CA-125 levels
after treatment, which may be an early sign that the
cancer has come back (recurred). You may have a CBC
and blood chemistry test to check if you have the right
number of different blood cells and to check if certain
organs are working properly.
You may also have imaging tests of your chest,
abdomen, and pelvis if needed to see if the cancer
has spread. CT, MRI, PET, and PET-CT may be used.
If needed, a chest x-ray may also be done to show if
the cancer has spread to your lungs. An x-ray uses
small amounts of radiation to make pictures of organs
and tissues inside the body. A tumor changes the way
radiation is absorbed and will show up on the x-ray
image. This test is painless and takes about 20 minutes.
Your doctor may recommend a family medical history
evaluation focused on what cancers your family members
have had and possibly genetic counseling. Genetic
counseling is a discussion with a health expert about
a disease caused by abnormal information in cells
that is passed down from parent to children. This is
recommended because some health problems, including
ovarian cancer, can run in families. For example, the risk
of developing ovarian cancer is higher if your mother,
sister, or daughter has had ovarian or breast cancer.
If you had surgery to only remove one ovary and
Fallopian tube so you could have babies, you may have
ultrasound tests to check for cancer in the remaining
ovary. Then, once you are finished having babies, your
doctor may recommend completion surgery. Completion
surgery removes the remaining ovary, Fallopian tube,
For recurrence treatment details and
recommendations, see page 59.