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Ovarian Cancer Ultrasound: What to Expect on Your First Visit

Medically reviewed by John Paul Abrina, MD · Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Jul 13, 2022

    Ovarian Cancer Ultrasound: What to Expect on Your First Visit

    The thing about any kind of cancer is that it is often diagnosed at a later stage. But if it gets screened and detected at its onset, there can be a better way to treat it. What happens during an ovarian cancer ultrasound? Find out here.

    Ovarian cancer is one of the most common types of cancer prevalent in women in their 40s or older. In the Philippines, it ranks 12th in the overall types of cancer and fifth among those experienced by females

    As a notable “silent killer,” this particular type of cancer may seem to be asymptomatic for most of its early stages. However, there are some signs and symptoms that many ladies tend to miss out on. Thus, leading to overlooking the possibility of its occurrence. 

    Data reveals that only around 20% of ovarian tumors are discovered in their early stages. When ovarian cancer is detected early, life expectancy increases and nearly 94% of patients live for more than five years. Hence, screening through an ovarian cancer ultrasound or any other form of diagnosis is a vital aspect of life.

    Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer

    In the course of evaluating if you have a tumor in your ovaries, you will have to undergo a series of tests and examinations starting from a physical exam.

    Medical history and physical examination

    During your consultation, your doctor may inquire about your medical history to better understand the possible risk factors. Consequently, a little family background may be discussed as well. Your doctor may also ask and check if you are experiencing any symptoms.

    Your doctor may follow up with questions like:

    • When did it start?
    • How long have you been experiencing it?

    After which, your doctor will most likely perform a pelvic exam. This is necessary in order to look for an enlarged ovary or signs of fluid in the abdomen called the ascites. While in the process, your attending physician may also take a blood sample to check the presence of the substance known as CA125. 

    Your doctor may refer you to a gynecologic oncologist should any findings require additional consult. This specialist will continue the diagnostic process by ordering several tests to rule out cancer.

    On top of these screening and imaging tests is the ovarian cancer ultrasound. There are two different ways in which it can be executed:

    • Abdominal (Pelvic) ultrasound
    • Transvaginal ultrasound

    Ovarian Cancer Ultrasound: Abdominal (Pelvic) Ultrasound

    Doctors frequently request for an ultrasound first as the high-frequency sound waves can reveal the presence of a pelvic mass. A pelvic ultrasound employs soundwave echoes to generate a computer image of your uterus and ovaries.

    The sonographer will position you on an examination table and move small handheld equipment called a transducer across your abdominal area.

    Ovarian Cancer Ultrasound: Transvaginal Ultrasound

    For this type of ultrasound, the sonographer inserts the small transducer wand into your vaginal canal. Like the typical sonography, the examiner also uses a disposable plastic sheath and gel for covering. Some doctors may favor this type more compared to the former as it can provide sharper pictures.

    This technique may be uncomfortable for some women, but it should not be painful. You may talk to your doctor and the sonographer if you feel worried about it.

    Both types of ultrasound can show whether the ovaries are of the right size and appear normal in texture. Also, they may also look into the presence of cysts in the ovaries through this screening. 

    An ultrasound scan normally takes up to 45 minutes, but it may vary depending on the situation.

    Cause of Ovarian Cancer: 5 Things You Need to Know

    Other imaging tests include:

    • Computed tomography (CT) scans
    • Barium enema x-ray
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans
    • Chest x-ray
    • Positron emission tomography (PET) scans

    Aside from imaging tests, some screening tests for ovarian cancer are:

    • Laparoscopy
    • Colonoscopy
    • Biopsy
    • Other blood tests

    Key Takeaway

    Take the first initiative and have yourself checked if you think you are at risk for ovarian cancer. 

    You don’t need to worry much as your doctor will guide you before, during, and after the screening.

    Learn more about ovarian cancer here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    John Paul Abrina, MD

    Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Jul 13, 2022

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