Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis

A lack of early detection or prevention strategies is presently a major cause of poor outcomes in ovarian cancer patients. Penn's Ovarian Cancer Research Center is comprised of both research and clinical programs with the goal to identify new screening methods and develop new prevention and treatment approaches.

Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center's gynecologic oncologists understand an accurate and quick diagnosis of ovarian cancer is key to offering the best treatment options in a timely and efficient manner.

A gynecologic oncologist is a gynecologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of women with cancer of the reproductive organs. At Abramson Cancer Center, our gynecologic oncologists have extensive experience in gynecologic surgery, and also oversee all medical oncology treatments such as chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

Ovarian cancer is more than 90 percent curable if detected early, but less than 30 percent if the disease is detected late. Our early detection and prevention program develops new detection tests and tools such as biomarkers and imaging technologies, risk calculations, and new prevention methods such as chemoprevention and vaccine

Screening for Ovarian Cancer

Abramson Cancer Center specialists use screening tests and exams to find ovarian cancer in women who don't have any symptoms. Currently, there is no consistently reliable, accurate screening test to detect ovarian cancer. It is recommended that women over the age of 18 have an annual vaginal exam and women over age 35 have an annual rectovaginal exam.

If you are at high risk for ovarian cancer, your physician may recommend:

  • Transvaginal sonography. An ultrasound performed with a small instrument placed in the vagina.
  • CA-125 blood test. A blood test to determine if the level of a tumor marker called CA-125 has increased in the blood.

These tests have limited value in detecting ovarian cancer early. A traditional Pap test, a screening tool for cervical cancer, does not detect ovarian cancer.

Navigating an ovarian cancer diagnosis and treatment options can be difficult. If you receive a cancer diagnosis, our cancer nurses are available and ready to help connect you with the right physician.

To connect with a cancer nurse at Penn Medicine, call 800-789-7366 (PENN).

Staging Ovarian Cancer

Staging ovarian cancer can help physicians at the Abramson Cancer Center create a treatment plan designed specifically for you.