See a GP if you have symptoms of ovarian cancer. They can do some initial tests and you may also need further tests in hospital.
A GP may:
In some cases, you may be referred straight to a hospital specialist (usually a gynaecologist) for further tests without having a blood test.
If the GP thinks your symptoms could be due to ovarian cancer, they'll recommend having a blood test to check for a substance called CA125.
CA125 is produced by some ovarian cancer cells. A high level of CA125 in your blood could be a sign of ovarian cancer.
But a raised CA125 level does not mean you definitely have cancer, as it can also be caused by other conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids and even pregnancy.
If the test shows a high level of CA125, you'll be referred for a scan to check for possible causes.
Sometimes your CA125 level can be normal in the early stages of ovarian cancer. If you've had a normal blood test result but your symptoms do not improve, go back to the GP as you may need to be re-tested.
Lab Tests Online UK has more information on the CA125 test.
The GP will arrange for you to have an ultrasound scan if a blood test suggests you could have ovarian cancer.
This is a type of scan where high-frequency sound waves are used to create an image of the inside of your body.
There are 2 ways it can be done:
The scan can show changes in your ovaries that could be caused by cancer or another problem such as endometriosis or a build-up of fluid.
If any abnormalities are found, you'll be referred to a specialist for further tests to confirm the cause.
The following tests may be done by a specialist in hospital to confirm or rule out ovarian cancer:
If ovarian cancer is found, these tests can also help determine how far it has already spread.
If you're diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it will be given a "stage".
This describes the size of the cancer and how far it has spread. It can help your doctors plan the best treatment for you.
The 4 main stages of ovarian cancer are:
Your cancer will also be given a "grade". This is a way of describing how quickly the cancer is likely to grow or spread.
The grades range from grade 1 (more likely to grow slowly) to grade 3 (more likely to grow quickly).