Understanding Ovarian Cancer -- Diagnosis & Treatment
How Is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed?
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.
In the absence of extra-abdominal metastatic disease, definitive staging of ovarian cancer requires surgery. The role of surgery in patients with stage IV disease and extra-abdominal disease is yet to be established. If disease appears to be limited to the ovaries or pelvis, it is essential at laparotomy to examine and biopsy or to obtain cytologic brushings of the diaphragm, both paracolic gutters, the pelvic peritoneum, para-aortic and pelvic nodes, and infracolic omentum, and to obtain peritoneal...
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. 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.
New chemotherapy drugs, biological drugs, and new methods of delivering treatment with fewer side effects, are being studied.