If an ovarian growth is suspected, an ultrasound of the ovaries is done. If any abnormality is detected, further testing will be done. Tests include blood studies, CT scans, barium enema X-rays, colonoscopy, MRI, and chest X-rays to help evaluate the extent of the cancer. Ultimately, the surgical opening of the abdomen (exploratory laparotomy) is necessary to confirm or rule out an ovarian cancer diagnosis.
Genetic testing may be useful for women who have a family history of ovarian, uterine (endometrial), or breast cancer. This testing can reveal if you have inherited a gene mutation that is associated with increased risk of ovarian cancer. However, the presence (or lack) of these mutations does not necessarily predict whether you will go on to develop ovarian cancer. And, if you carry a mutation and want to take steps to help prevent ovarian cancer, you may consider removal of the ovaries.
Flanking the uterus are the two ovaries, each about the size of an almond, which produce eggs and female hormones. Ovarian cancer can occur at any age, even in childhood, but is most common after menopause. The disease accounts for about 22,000 new cases and almost 15,000 deaths annually in the U.S.
During her childbearing years, a woman's ovaries deliver eggs to the uterus through the fallopian tubes. The ovaries are susceptible to several types of growths, which are often benign cysts,...
Surgery is the standard treatment for ovarian cancer. Ordinarily, the two ovaries and the other reproductive organs are removed. Young women who have only a small tumor in one ovary and who still want to have children may have just the cancerous ovary removed; the second can be removed later to prevent cancer recurrence.
In most women with advanced disease, some cancer remains after surgery. A woman's prognosis depends on how much cancer remains and how well it responds to follow-up treatment. Most women receive chemotherapy, which can prolong survival and may result in a cure. Radiation therapy may be used to help alleviate symptoms or in certain patients with advanced disease. For certain groups of women targeted drug therapy is an option. Targeted drugs make changes specifically to the cancer cells without affecting normal, healthy cells.
Even if no cancer is detected after treatment, follow-up exams are essential; women who have had the disease may be at greater risk for breast and colorectal cancer.