Main tests for ovarian cancer
A blood test and a scan are usually done first, but other tests are often needed to diagnose ovarian cancer.
You may have an ultrasound scan to see if there are changes to your ovaries.
This might be done using a scanning device (the size of a finger) inserted into your vagina (transvaginal scan). Or you may have an external scan over your tummy area (abdominal scan).
If your scan comes back normal, but your symptoms continue for a month or more, see a GP again.
Sometimes ovaries are too small to show up on a scan, especially after the menopause.
Other tests you may have include:
- a CT scan
- removing a small sample of cells or fluid from your ovaries (needle biopsy),
- looking at your ovaries using a camera on the end of a tube through a small cut in your tummy (laparoscopy)
- surgery to remove tissue or possibly your ovaries (laparotomy)
Getting your results
You should get the results of your tests within a few weeks.
Call the hospital or GP if you're worried. They should be able to update you.
A specialist will explain what the results mean and what will happen next. You may want to bring someone with you for support.
If you're told you have ovarian cancer
Being told you have ovarian cancer can feel overwhelming. You may be feeling anxious about what will happen next.
It can help to bring someone with you to any appointments you have.
A team of specialists will look after you throughout your diagnosis, treatment and beyond.
Your team will include a clinical nurse specialist who will be your main point of contact during and after treatment.
You can ask them any questions you have.
Macmillan Cancer Support has a free helpline that's open every day from 8am to 8pm.
They're there to listen if you have anything you want to talk about.
Call 0808 808 00 00.
If you've been told you have ovarian cancer, you usually need more tests.
These, along with the tests you’ve already had, will help the specialists find out the size of the cancer and how far it’s spread (called the stage).
You may need:
- scans, like a CT scan, MRI scan, PET scan or chest X-ray
- genetic testing (if ovarian or breast cancer runs in your family)
You may not have all of these tests.
The specialists will use the results of these tests and talk to you about the best treatment plan for you.
Page last reviewed: 24 January 2022
Next review due: 24 January 2025