Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can blood tests check for ovarian cancer?"
Is it possible for a doctor to test you for ovarian cancer by running a blood test? I ask because I am terrified at the thought of having to get something deep inside me biopsied, so I'd rather go with a less invasive procedure - even if I have to sacrifice some accuracy.
Unfortunately, ovarian cancer is often detected incidentally on an ultrasound or CAT scan that is done in response to vague symptoms such as pelvic pain abdominal pain or fullness. Sometimes women will have these vague symptoms and a mass on the ovaries is found. If the mass on the ovaries is the only thing that is found, then it can not be determined whether it is ovarian cancer or just a benign tumor or cysts. For this reason, these masses are typically biopsied. The biopsies are done under imaging guidance and are very routine. There is a blood test that is associated with ovarian cancer called the CA-125 test. While some physicians use it to look for ovarian cancer, it is not generally recommended. This is because the CA-125 test is positive in other conditions and other cancers other than ovarian. In addition, not all ovarian cancers produce CA-125. Thus, if ovarian cancer was a possibility, you would not want to rely on this test for a diagnosis. It is however a useful test to tract the response of a cancer to treatment. I suggest that you pose this question to your OBGYN. If there is a mass that has been found on your ovary that is not clearly a benign cyst, then your doctor may recommend biopsy. The two of you can discuss what this procedure entails. In addition, you can ask if the CA-125 blood test will play any role in the diagnosis.
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