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Ovarian Cancer information

Overview

Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common women’s cancer, and is caused by the abnormal growth and division of cells in the ovary (and in some cases, the Fallopian tube). But, if diagnosed early, treatment can be very successful. At the London Ultrasound Centre we offer a meticulous ultrasound examination, combined with the CA125 tumour marker blood test. It is not yet known whether ovarian cancer screening saves lives, but it can detect the majority of cancers before they cause symptoms.

Am I at risk?
High risk factors
If you have a family history of ovarian cancer or related cancers such as breast, bowel and endometrial cancer.

Lower risk factors
If you’ve not had children, never used hormonal contraception, are taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT), have endometriosis, or are overweight or smoke.

Do I need a screening or assessment?
It is important to understand the difference between an ovarian cancer screening and an ovarian cancer symptoms assessment.
Screening means having tests to see if cancer is present when you don’t have symptoms.
An assessment is where you are exhibiting symptoms and need to be examined and tested to see if you have the disease or not.

The London Ultrasound Centre offers both ovarian cancer symptoms assessment and ovarian cancer screening via the experts at The Ovarian Cancer Screening Centre.

Please click on the headings on the left to learn more.

Symptoms

Your GP or gynaecologist may refer you for an ovarian cancer assessment if you are showing these three main symptoms:

  • Persistent pain in the pelvis and abdomen
  • Persistent bloating or increased abdominal size
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly

It is unlikely that you have the disease unless you are experiencing these symptoms on most days. However, not all patients show these signs.

If you are experiencing these symptoms you should make an appointment for an ovarian cancer symtoms assessment.

 

Ovarian cancer symptoms assessment

What is it?
Our ovarian cancer symptoms assessment combines a consultation with a specialist gynaecological oncologist, a meticulous ultrasound examination, and the latest blood tests.

What can you expect?
A qualified Gynaecological Oncologist from The Ovarian Cancer Screening Centre will discuss your symptoms with you. They will then perform a thorough physical examination to check for any abnormalities. Depending on the Gynaecological Oncologist’s assessment, you may then be recommended to have any of the following:

A detailed ultrasound of your pelvis. The scan is performed internally by using a thin probe inserted into the vagina. The pelvic organs are thoroughly examined with special attention given to the ovaries. This scan is similar to an early pregnancy scan and is not usually uncomfortable.

A blood test
With this blood test we will look for two ovarian cancer tumour markers called CA125 and HE4. The results of these markers are combined in the Risk of Ovarian Malignancy Algorithm or ROMA. This test is currently the most accurate method of assessing ovarian abnormalities seen on ultrasound scans.

Once the Gynaecological Oncologist has the test results, in most cases, they will be able to reassure you that you do not have ovarian cancer. If an abnormality has been found, they will be able to explain to you what else needs to be done. This may include the need for a CT and/or MRI scan. In the unlikely event that a possible ovarian cancer has been found, they will be able to arrange for you to have the best possible treatment.

What if I don’t have any symptoms?
If you aren't exhibiting any symptoms but want to be screened for ovarian cancer we recommend you have an appointment with one of our leading ovarian cancer screening experts. The consultant will be able to assess your level of risk, advise you on whether screening is right for you, and if so, what type of screening best suits your level of risk.

To book an ovarian cancer symptoms assessment please contact The Ovarian Cancer Screening Centre on 020 7387 8297

Ovarian cancer screening

Do I need to have screening?
This depends on your level of risk and your preferences. Before undergoing screening, we recommend that you have an appointment with one of our experts - Professor Ian Jacobs or Dr Adam Rosenthal. They will assess your level of risk, explain the pros and cons of screening to you, and if you want to go ahead, they will arrange your screening, which can be carried out there and then.

How often will I need to be screened?
This depends on your level of risk. If you fall into the high-risk category, you will usually have three blood tests a year and one ultrasound scan a year. If you do not, then one blood test and one scan each year is all that is usually required.

What happens during the ovarian cancer screening?
Ultrasound scan
The scan is performed internally by using a thin probe inserted into the vagina. The pelvic organs are thoroughly examined with special attention given to the ovaries where the clinician will look for specific markers. This scan is similar to an early pregnancy scan and is not usually uncomfortable.

Blood test
After the scan you will have a small blood sample taken and sent for laboratory analysis. The test is called CA125 and is the best and most widely used indicator for ovarian cancer screening. Testing more than once allows us to monitor changes in the level over time. A level which increases over time can indicate the presence of an ovarian cancer and significantly raises detection rates of the disease.

Your results
Results from your ultrasound scan will be available immediately after your appointment. The sonographer or consultant will discuss their findings with you at the end of your scan. A comprehensive report will be prepared for your GP or gynaecologist and one for yourself. Results from the CA125 blood test can take up to 7 working days. Your results will be reviewed by one of the experts from The Ovarian Cancer Screening Centre and we will call you with the results and send you a hard copy of the report.

A positive result
If your result indicates a positive screen for ovarian cancer it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the disease – only that you have a higher chance of currently having it. A diagnosis can only be confirmed through additional tests, which your consultant can discuss with you.

To book an ovarian cancer screening appointment please contact The Ovarian Cancer Screening Centre on 020 7387 8297