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How to Diagnose Ovarian Cancer Early

Cervical cancer can be diagnosed early using a pap test. So does breast cancer with a mammogram. What about ovarian cancer? Can it be diagnosed early? How to diagnose ovarian cancer early? Here in this post, we will tell you the answers to these questions.

How to Diagnose Ovarian Cancer Early

How to Diagnose Ovarian Cancer Early

There are three things that can be done to diagnose ovarian cancer early. They are health exams, recognizing symptoms, and screening tests.

Health exams
Regular health exams, like pelvic exams, may be useful to find ovarian cancer at an early stage. A pelvic exam is usually the first test. During the exam, the healthcare professional feels the uterus and ovaries for shape, size, and consistency.

Sometimes, pelvic exams can detect ovarian cancer early. Most of the time, however, they cannot because most early ovarian tumors are hard or downright impossible to feel.

Despite being not effective at detecting ovarian cancer at an early stage, pelvic exams may help to find other female conditions or cancers.

Recognizing symptoms
How to diagnose ovarian cancer early? One of the ways you can do so is by recognizing symptoms. Ovarian cancer is a “silent” disease because it often causes no symptoms at its early stage. That doesn’t mean there are no symptoms at all. In some cases, cancer does cause symptoms.

The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer in its early stage include bloating, prolonged pain in areas such as the pelvis, abdomen, and/or lower back, a change in bladder function, difficulty eating, and constipation.

What you need to keep in mind is that ovarian cancer shares many symptoms that are caused by other, less serious conditions. If you experience the symptoms of ovarian cancer, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have it.

You should still keep an eye on the symptoms, however. Particularly if the symptoms are a change from normal and persistent. Recognize the symptoms and report them to your healthcare professional.

Screening tests
Screening tests are tests meant to detect a disease before any symptoms are experienced by the individual being tested. A Pap test is an example of a screening test for cervical cancer. In the case of ovarian cancer, there are no reliable screening tests for the disease yet.

A lot of research has been conducted to develop a reliable screening test for ovarian cancer. So far, there hasn’t been much success. Other than pelvic exams, most often tests to screen for ovarian cancer are the CA-125 blood test and transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS).
  • CA-125 blood test
    Women who have ovarian cancer tend to have high levels of CA-125 protein in their blood. Because of this, a CA-125 blood test can help to detect ovarian cancer early. The test, however, is not definitive.

    Some other health conditions, like endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease, can also increase the level of CA-125 protein in the blood. There is also the fact that some women who have ovarian cancer don’t have a high level of CA-125.

  • TVUS
    TVUS is a screening test that utilizes sound waves to look at the womb, fallopian tubes, as well as ovaries by inserting an ultrasound wand into the vagina. TVUS is able to not only detect the presence of a pelvic mass but also reveal its size and whether it is fluid-filled (meaning it is a cyst) or solid (a tumor).

    Although TVUS can help to find a tumor within the ovary, it cannot tell if it is benign or cancer.

So, how to diagnose ovarian cancer early? Unlike cervical and breast cancer, there is no reliable screening test to diagnose ovarian cancer early. That doesn’t necessarily mean there is nothing you can do about it.

Doing things like health exams, recognizing symptoms, and screening tests may help to detect cancer early. And the earlier ovarian cancer is detected, the more treatable it is and the better the patient’s prognosis.

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