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What Is Ovarian Cancer? How Is It Detected?

Ovarian cancer originates in the ovary, one of the two female reproductive organs located in the pelvis, on each side of the uterus. Ovules or eggs are formed in the ovaries.

Most cases of ovarian cancer happen in women over 55 years of age. The most important risk elements are age and family history. Women who have never been pregnant also present a higher risk. Women with a mutation in the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 genes have a higher risk of ovarian cancer (in addition to the higher risk of breast cancer).

How is ovarian cancer diagnosed and evaluated?

Your physician will start by asking about your medical history and symptoms. You will also have a physical exam that includes a pelvic exam. If you have any symptoms that suggest the presence of ovarian cancer, you may have the following tests:

  • The pelvic ultrasound: takes help of sound waves to produce images of structures and organs of the pelvis waves, and can help identify uterine or ovarian cancers. In a transvaginal ultrasound, a probe is attached into the vagina to get a better view of the uterus and ovaries.
  • The abdominal and pelvic CT: taking pictures of the entire abdominal cavity, and is used to help treat the cause of abdominal or pelvic pain and to detect ovarian cancer. Generally, an injection of contrast material, as well as an oral contrast, is used to increase the visibility of the lymph nodes and other tissues at the time of CT Scan Abdomen.

The laparoscope is carried out using a thin, lighted tube also known as a laparoscope that is injected through a small cut in the abdomen, to check for evidence of the presence of cancer.

If the presence of cancer is detected, imaging studies are generally useful to decide the extent of the tumor present in the abdomen, and if cancer has spread. To help determine the stage of the disease, the following imaging studies can be performed:

  • The CT of the body: (if it has not been previously done) takes a series of detailed images of your pelvis, abdomen or chest. An injection of contrast material and oral contrast can be used to improve the visibility of lymph nodes and other tissues.
  • Although it is less common, the MRI of the body can be used to produce detailed images of the uterus, lymph nodes, and other tissues in the abdomen and pelvis at the time of the exam. A CT scan can easily detect cancer in the lymph nodes, lungs, or elsewhere. An injection of contrast material can also be used to increase the visibility of the lymph nodes and other tissues during the examination. See the Security page for more information about contrast materials.
  • The PET/CT is an imaging examination of nuclear medicine employing a small amount of radioactive material to help determine the extent or treatment of various diseases, including cancer. PET CT scans can be linked with CT or MRI to create special views that can lead to more accurate and accurate diagnoses. PET / CT can be used to evaluate the response of ovarian cancer to therapies such as chemotherapy.
  • The X-ray of the lower gastrointestinal tract (GI) is an X-ray of the large intestine (colon). The lower gastrointestinal tract has barium using a flexible tube that is inserted through the rectum to better visualize the possible spread of cancer in the digestive tract.
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