What Should I Know About Screening?
There is no simple and reliable way to screen for ovarian cancer in women who do not have any signs or symptoms.
Screening is when a test is used to look for a disease before there are any symptoms. Cancer screening tests work when they can find disease early, when treatment works best. Diagnostic tests are used when a person has symptoms. The purpose of diagnostic tests is to find out, or diagnose, what is causing the symptoms. Diagnostic tests also may be used to check a person who is considered at high risk for cancer.
The Pap test does not check for ovarian cancer. The only cancer the Pap test screens for is cervical cancer. Since there is no simple and reliable way to screen for any gynecologic cancer except for cervical cancer, it is especially important to recognize warning signs, and learn what you can do to reduce your risk.
Here is what you can do—
- Pay attention to your body, and know what is normal for you.
- If you notice any changes in your body that are not normal for you and could be a sign of ovarian cancer, talk to your doctor about them.
Ask your doctor if you should have a diagnostic test, like a rectovaginal pelvic exam, a transvaginal ultrasound, or a CA-125 blood test if—
- You have any unexplained signs or symptoms of ovarian cancer. These tests sometimes help find or rule out ovarian cancer.
- You have had breast, uterine, or colorectal (colon) cancer, or a close relative has had ovarian cancer.
- You have a genetic mutation (abnormality) in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, or one associated with Lynch syndrome.
- FDA Safety Communication: The FDA recommends against using screening tests for ovarian cancer screening
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation against routine screening for ovarian cancer