Unfortunately, most women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed with advanced-stage disease (Stage III). This is because the symptoms of ovarian cancer (particularly in the early stages) often are not acute or intense, and present vaguely. In most cases, ovarian cancer is not detected during routine pelvic exams, unless the doctor notes that the ovary is enlarged. The sooner ovarian cancer is found and treated, the better a woman's chance for recovery. It is important to know that early stage symptoms are not silent - so women should be extra alert and watch out for early symptoms.
While CA-125 is an important test, it unfortunately is not always accurate. Some non-cancerous diseases of the ovaries also increase the CA-125 levels, and some ovarian cancers may not produce enough CA-125 levels to cause a positive test.
If any of these tests are positive, a woman should consult with a gynecologic oncologist who may conduct a CT scan and X-Rays and study the results. However, the only way to more accurately confirm ovarian cancer is with a biopsy, a procedure in which the doctor takes a sample of the tumor and examines it under a microscope.
Research into new ovarian cancer screening tests is ongoing and new diagnostic tests may be on the horizon. NOCC monitors the latest scientific developments, so please come back and visit our site for updates.