Ovarian cancer is a catch-all term for a selection of illnesses that are found in the ovaries or other areas in the female reproductive system, such as the fallopian tubes. Every year around 7,300 women are diagnosed with the disease in the UK. This blog will discuss a long list of symptoms associated with the condition to help explain how ovarian cancer is diagnosed.
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
There is a long list of symptoms of ovarian cancer (NHS, 2022) that you should be aware of. It can be difficult to identify these symptoms during their early stages as they often feel less severe. However, identifying these symptoms early can help you get a quicker diagnosis. Take a look at the list of symptoms below:
Sudden loss of appetite
- Painful bloating
- Feeling full quickly when eating
- Increased need to pee more frequently
- Discomfort in the abdomen
- Unexpected weight loss
- Unexplained tiredness
Of course, symptoms like these do not necessarily mean you have ovarian cancer. In some cases, you may not show any symptoms at all. A professional check, with your GP or during a private health check up would be much better suited at preventing ovarian cancer from becoming detrimental to your health as it could be caught early.
How Is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed?
If you are experiencing any related symptoms, you should meet with your GP, or another medical professional, who will discuss the next steps with you. Initially, they may issue some tests, such as a blood test. This is nothing to worry about, and your doctor will help put your mind at ease. If the test comes back positive, your doctor will then try and diagnose you further, and you may need to attend a hospital appointment.
There is currently no NHS screening programme for the disease. However, plenty of tests are available that can help your doctor come to a professional diagnosis. For example, you may be required to attend an ultrasound scan if your test comes back positive for further diagnosis.
At Echelon Health, we provide a range of packages that include an ovaries ultrasound test to look for any evidence of ovarian tumours or cysts. This test is included in packages such as:
- Core Cancer
For more information, visit our package and prices page.
Ovarian Cancer Blood Test
To help diagnose ovarian cancer, a ca125 blood test will be issued. Try not to worry as the test is often over fairly quickly. You will be required to sit or lie down during the test. Your doctor/nurse will then look for a vein to use, usually in your arm or hand. A tight band will be put around your arm where they need to take the sample. Then a small needle will be put into your vein, and your blood sample will be collected. Once enough samples are collected, your test is complete. You may have to wait for your results for several weeks; try not to panic as this is normal.
Ovarian Cancer Ultrasound
An ultrasound scan is a common approach to diagnose ovarian cancer. It gives healthcare professionals an image of the inside of your body. This allows them to examine your ovaries to help them identify any changes or abnormalities. There are two types of ultrasound. These are:
Abdominal ultrasound: A small probe that is used over your tummy to produce an image of your ovaries.
Transvaginal ultrasound: A small probe passed into your vagina to create an even clearer image of your ovaries.
At Echelon Health, we use this approach to help our healthcare professionals diagnose ovarian cancer. We feel that it is the best technique to help diagnose the condition in our patients.
CT Scan For Ovarian Cancer
A CT scan can often be required for patients who have ovarian cancer. However, it is important to note that this technique is usually not used for diagnosis as it does not show small ovarian tumours well. Instead, it identifies whether ovarian cancer has spread to other organs.
A CT scan is an x-ray test that creates several detailed images across your body. Although they cannot identify small ovarian tumours very well, they can pick up larger tumours. During the scan, you will lie down on a bed that is passed through the scanner. The scanner rotates around small sections of your body as you pass through it. They usually take around 10-20 minutes to complete.
There is a range of different imaging techniques used to diagnose ovarian cancer, which we have already discussed throughout this article. However, there are some other techniques that can be used. Let’s discuss each one in more detail.
Biopsy: A biopsy is a small medical procedure that requires a small sample of body tissue to be taken. A needle is passed through the tummy to take a sample of your ovary cells. It is then examined to help identify signs of ovarian cancer.
Laparoscopy: This procedure requires a small incision to be made into your tummy. A thin tube with a tiny camera attached is then inserted so your ovaries can be examined. During the procedure, a small tissue sample may be removed for testing.
Book An Ultrasound Ovaries Scan
As mentioned previously, at Echelon Health, we offer a wide range of health assessment packages which include techniques like an ultrasound scan. An ultrasound scan is a preferred technique for diagnosing ovarian cancer – and certain other cancers – as it helps to capture an incredibly detailed image of the inside of your body. It allows our healthcare professionals to identify any abnormalities or changes in your ovaries, which they can then work to treat.
However, an ultrasound alone cannot detect all types of cancers, and it certainly cannot detect many other diseases. This is precisely one of the reasons why Echelon Health are offering the world’s top health assessments: we recognise that to detect the right disease, the right modality must be used. Only by combining the use of the most advanced imaging technology – CT, MRI and ultrasound scanners – are we able to detect up to 92% of preventable causes of death.
The ultrasound is a part of several of our packages including:
- Core Cancer
- Well woman
Our most comprehensive assessment – the Platinum – which also includes this test, covers your body head-to-toe in great detail and goes through the following tests to look for various diseases covered below:
|Scan||What it detects|
|Medical Questionnaire & Pre-Assessment||Every Client completes a detailed Medical Questionnaire that ensures a full medical history is taken. This is reviewed by one of our Doctors who may need to speak with you to establish more detailed information relating to your health and risk factors.|
|ECG||An Electrocardiogram (or ECG) is an important test that records the rhythm, rate and electrical activity of your heart. It is completely painless and takes only a few minutes.|
|CT Aorta||Our heart scan examines the beginning of the aorta for any evidence of dilation which could be the early signs of an aneurysm|
|CT Heart||CT Heart Scan (Calcium Score) examines your overall heart arteries for any calcium deposition, the earliest sign of atheromatous disease.|
|CT Coronary Angiogram||This determines the exact location and severity of any atheroma.|
|CT Chest||With this scan, we are looking for evidence of tiny nodules which could be the early signs of lung cancer.|
|CT Pelvis||Here, we are looking for any signs of abnormalities or tumours in your kidneys, bladder and lymph glands|
|CT Abdomen||Here, we are looking for any signs of abnormalities or tumours in your liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas and adrenal glands.|
|CT Virtual Colonoscopy||This scan is looking for colonic polyps and early indications of possible cancer.|
|CT Bone Density||A CT Bone Density scan is an extremely accurate method of measuring the density of your bones and diagnosing osteoporosis|
|EOS CT Upright Skeleton||This ultra-low dose CT scan of the entire skeleton in the standing position enables us to determine whether you have any postural issues or predisposition to spinal disc problems.|
|MRI Brain||This detailed scan of your brain looks for any indications of tumours or significant abnormalities, including of the sinuses and inner ears.|
|MRI Cerebral Artery Angiogram||This scan looks directly at the arteries in your brain to assess whether there has been any narrowing or malformations of them.|
|MRI Carotid Artery Angiogram||This determines whether there is any narrowing of the neck arteries that supply blood to the brain.|
|MRI Prostate (Men)||This, combined with the PSA blood test, is the most accurate means of screening for prostate cancer.|
|Ultrasound Thyroid||An ultrasound of the thyroid is looking for evidence of nodules or tumours.|
|Ultrasound Testes/ Ovaries||This scan is designed to look for any evidence of testicular/ovarian tumours or cysts.|
|Digital Mammogram (Women)||a digital mammogram is the most accurate means of visualising breast lumps or early signs of cancer.|
|Full Body Mole Screen||skin cancer screening and mole removal|
|Final Consultation||Your scans/assessments are reported on by some of the leading specialist radiologists in their respective fields and then reviewed with you by a senior Echelon Health Doctor.|
If you would like to book a Platinum assessment with one of our healthcare professionals, or you would like to know more about the services we offer, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via the contact page on our website.
NHS (2022). Symptoms. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ovarian-cancer/symptoms/ (accessed 22/03/2022)