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NCCN Guidelines for Patients



Ovarian Cancer, Version 1.2017


Testing for ovarian cancer

General health tests

General health tests

Medical and family history

Your medical history includes any health events in

your life and any medications you’ve taken. Your

doctors will want to know about all your illnesses,

symptoms, and any prior tests or surgeries. It may

help to make a list of old and new medications while

at home to bring to your doctor’s office.

Ovarian cancer and other health conditions can run

in families. Therefore, your doctors will also ask

about the medical history of your blood relatives. It’s

important to know who in your family has had what

diseases. It’s also important to know at what ages

the diseases started. This information is called a

family history.

While taking your medical and family history, your

doctor may also ask you questions about your

nutrition. He or she will want to know about your diet.

It is important to follow a healthy diet. This is true for

any cancer diagnosis. Tell your doctor or nurse about

your eating habits. If you need help with keeping a

healthy diet or have questions about your diet, ask

your doctor for a referral to a registered dietitian.

Genetic counseling and testing

Ovarian cancer often occurs for unknown reasons.

But, about 15 out of 100 ovarian cancers are due

to changes in genes that are passed down from a

parent to a child. This is called hereditary ovarian

cancer. Using your age, medical history, and family

history, your doctor will assess how likely you are to

have hereditary ovarian cancer.

NCCN experts also recommend genetic counseling

for all women diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Genetic counseling is a discussion with a health

expert about the risk for a disease caused by

changes in genes. This should be led by someone

with a lot of experience and expertise such as a

genetic counselor.

A genetic counselor has special training to help

patients understand changes in genes that are

related to disease. The genetic counselor can tell

you more about how likely you are to have hereditary

ovarian cancer. He or she may suggest genetic

testing to look for changes in genes that increase the

chances of developing ovarian cancer.

Hereditary ovarian cancer is most often caused by

changes (mutations) in the




genes. Families with a history of Lynch syndrome












syndrome] may also be at risk ovarian cancer as

well as other cancers. Both


gene mutations

and Lynch syndrome put woman at risk for ovarian

cancer starting at an early age. When normal, these

genes help prevent abnormal cell growth by repairing

damaged cells. Genetic testing can tell if you have

a mutation in the


genes or other genes

important in hereditary cancer. See pages 40 and 60

for more on genetic mutations and treatment.

Abdominal and pelvic exam

Doctors often give a physical exam along with taking

a medical history. A physical exam is a review of your

body for signs of disease. During this exam, your

doctor will listen to your lungs, heart, and intestines

to assess your general health. He or she will also

look at and touch parts of your body to check for

abnormal changes.

Your doctor will also give a physical exam of your

belly (abdomen) and pelvis—the area between your

hip bones. This is called an abdominal and pelvic


For the abdominal exam, your doctor will feel

different parts of your belly. This is to see if organs

are of normal size, are soft or hard, or cause pain

when touched.

Your doctor will also feel for signs of fluid buildup,

called ascites. Ascites may be found in the belly area

or around the ovaries.