NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Ovarian Cancer, Version 1.2017
Testing for ovarian cancer
One x-ray scan is completed in about 30 seconds.
But, the full exam may take 15 to 60 minutes
to complete. More or less time may be needed
depending on the part of your body being scanned.
A computer will combine all the x-ray pictures into
one detailed picture. You may not learn of the results
for a few days since a radiologist needs to see the
pictures. A radiologist is a doctor who’s an expert in
reading the pictures from imaging tests.
An MRI scan uses radio waves and powerful
magnets to take pictures of the inside of the body.
It does not use x-rays. This type of scan is good at
showing the spine and soft tissues like the brain.
An MRI scan of your abdomen and pelvis may be
used to look for ovarian cancer if the ultrasound was
unclear. An MRI scan of your chest may be used to
look for signs of cancer spread. This test may also
be used to check treatment results and to assess for
cancer spread to other parts of the body.
Getting an MRI scan is similar to getting a CT scan.
But, MRI scans take longer to complete. The full
exam can take an hour or more. For the scan, you
will need to lie on a table that moves through a
large tunnel in the scanning machine. The scan may
cause your body to feel a bit warm. Like a CT scan,
a contrast dye may be used to make the pictures
clearer. You may not learn of the results for a few
days since a radiologist needs to see and interpret
A PET (
omography) scan shows
how your cells are using a simple form of sugar. To
create pictures, a sugar radiotracer first needs to be
put into your body with an injection into a vein.
The radiotracer emits a small amount of energy that
is detected by the machine that takes pictures. Active
cancer cells use sugar faster than normal cells. Thus,
cancer cells look brighter in the pictures.
PET is very good at showing small groups of cancer
cells. This test may also be useful for showing if
ovarian cancer has spread. Sometimes, PET is
combined with CT—called a PET/CT scan.
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 picture. A chest x-ray can
be used to show if cancer has spread to your lungs.
This test may be given with other initial tests when
ovarian cancer is first suspected or found. It may also
be given after treatment to check treatment results. A
chest x-ray is painless and takes about 20 minutes to
The GI tract is made of the organs that food passes
through when you eat. This includes your stomach,
small intestine, large intestine, and rectum. A GI
evaluation is an imaging test that is used to view your
GI tract. This test may be used in certain cases to
check for signs of cancer spread.
This imaging test uses a scope to see inside your GI
tract. A scope is a long, thin tube that can be guided
into your body, often through the mouth, anus, or
a surgical cut. One end of the scope has a small
light and camera lens to see inside your body. At
the other end of the scope is an eyepiece that your
doctor looks through to see the pictures shown by