Ovarian cancer may cause one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pressure or pain in the abdomen, pelvis, back or legs
- A swollen or bloated abdomen
- Nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation or diarrhea
- Persistent fatigue
- Pain during sex
- Unexplained weight loss
- Menstrual changes Keep in mind that these symptoms can also indicate conditions other than ovarian cancer. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible so the cause can be diagnosed and treated promptly.
Diagnostic Tests for Ovarian Cancer
If you are experiencing symptoms of ovarian cancer, your doctor will first ask you some questions and perform a physical exam to look for signs, such as an enlarged ovary or signs of fluid in the abdomen called ‘ascites’. If your doctor suspects ovarian cancer, they may recommend the following diagnostic tests.
- Blood tests are performed to check the level of several substances in your blood, including a cancer antigen called CA-125.
- Ultrasound uses sound waves to show organs inside the pelvis. A computer creates a picture from the sound waves or echoes. For a better view of the ovaries, a small, lubricated probe (a transducer) may be inserted into the vagina for a test called a transvaginal ultrasound.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays to create cross-sectional pictures inside the body. CT scans may not show smaller ovarian tumors, but they can detect whether a larger tumor is growing into nearby structures or whether lymph nodes are enlarged.
- Biopsy may be performed based on the results of other tests. Your doctor may want to remove tissue and fluid from the pelvis and abdomen so that a pathologist can examine it for the presence of cancer.
Our continued commitment to research enables us to improve present and future cancer care. Learn more about our current ovarian cancer related clinical trials.
Our physicians specialize in managing ovarian cancer at the following convenient Houston Methodist Cancer Center locations.