Ovarian Cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer related deaths among women worldwide. Ovarian Cancer is often detected at an advanced stage which generally results in poor survival rates, therefore early detection is key to improved survival.
Female Reproductive System
What is Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer is a disease that can disrupt the normal function of the ovaries. If it’s left unchecked, it can affect other parts of the body too.
Ovarian cancer occurs when abnormal cells within the ovary start to multiply, creating a tumour. But it’s important to note that not all tumours are cancerous.
Non-cancerous tumours are called benign tumours. This means they don’t usually spread to other parts of the body. They may need treatment but they’re rarely life threatening.
Malignant ovarian tumours are cancerous and can be life threatening.
It’s important to catch cancers early because they can grow large enough to engulf most of the ovary and spread to other parts of the body too.
What are the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?
What out for these ovarian cancer symptoms:
- Persistent stomach pain
- Persistent bloating
- Finding it difficult to eat or feeling full quickly
- Needing to empty your bladder more often
Other symptoms you may notice include:
- Back pain
- Changes in your bowel habits (diarrhoea or constipation)
- Feeling tired all the time
If your regularly experiencing these symptoms on most days it’s important to talk to your GP as soon as possible.
This health check includes a detailed ultrasound scan of the ovaries, uterus, endometrium (lining of the womb) and adnexea (area around the ovaries)
An ultrasound scan is a painless test that provides images of the inside of the body by using high frequency sound waves. These sound waves are at a frequency which cannot be heard by the human ear but when they bounce off different parts of the body, create echoes that are picked up by the probe and turned into a moving image.
Unlike other scans such as MRI and CT, ultrasound does not involve radiation and is in real time i.e. live imaging and is not static i.e. still pictures. This live information is interpreted and is used as the basis of the subsequent diagnostic report.
There are many kinds of ultrasound scans that can be performed as ultrasound has numerous applications in healthcare and are ultimately beneficial to us if used in the right context by a competent body or person. However as with any test, ultrasound scans have limitations some of which are generic to all scans such as not being able to visualise bone clearly or scan specific and therefore may not be suitable in certain situations and like any test can not diagnose every problem.
UTERUS AND OVARIES
The following blood test cancer markers are included in this health check:
HE4 / CA125 / ROMA
What do these cancer markers show?
Traditionally CA125 marker test is the best known test for ovarian cancer diagnosis, and is the serum marker most widely used to monitor therapeutic response and to detect disease or disease recurrence in patients treated for epithelial ovarian cancer.
Elevated levels of CA125 may indicate you have ovarian cancer however CA125 isn’t specific to ovarian cancer and it can be raised in conditions including endometriosis, fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease and pregnancy, so a raised CA125 level doesn’t definitely mean you have ovarian cancer.
Recognised limitations have prompted the development of biomarkers with better sensitivity for early stage diagnosis, with the ability to differentiate women with ovarian cancer from those with benign ovarian conditions. CA 125 has a high false positive rate among women with benign gynecological conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease and pregnancy. It is well documented that approximately 20% of ovarian cancers lack expression of CA 125, and levels are not increased in nearly 40-50% of early stage ovarian cancers.
HE4 is a new marker for ovarian carcinoma, which is over-expressed in patients with ovarian cancers. When combined with CA 125, HE4 significantly increases the level of sensitivity for detection of ovarian cancer. HE4 is consistently expressed in patients with ovarian cancer and demonstrates an increased sensitivity and specificity over that of CA 125 alone.
A Risk of Ovarian Malignancy Algorithm (ROMA) classifies patients as being at low or high risk for malignant disease using both CA 125 and HE4 results and a woman’s menopausal status. The risk is given as an adjunct to the two test results for CA 125 and HE4. ROMA calculates a risk of finding ovarian cancer during surgery. ROMA classifies patients as being at low or high risk for malignant disease.
HE4 is CE marked as an aid in estimating the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer in pre-menopausal and postmenopausal women.
What if I have abnormal results?
It is important to take your results to your regular healthcare provider for interpretation.
Whilst high levels or abnormal results could mean you have ovarian cancer, this test is not definitive and elevated results could be signs of other problems such as endometriosis, fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease and pregnancy.
You will receive results of your blood test, ultrasound scan along with a report from one of our GP partners summarising the results and any further action that may or may not be necessary.
In all cases we strongly recommend sharing your results with your regular GP/ health care provider.
- A full bladder is required for the ultrasound scan – Please drink 1 litre of fluid approximately 1 hour before your scheduled appointment and please try your best not to empty your bladder before the examination.
- An transvaginal scan (internal scan) is recommended and may be required.
- You may eat as normal and also maintain your normal medication
- This scan requires access to the area of interest, therefore it is recommended to wear loose clothing to facilitate this process.
The assessment involves ultrasound scans and blood tests.
This health check includes a detailed ultrasound scan of the ovaries, uterus, endometrium (lining of the womb) and adnexea (area around the ovaries). Furthermore the blood test looks at the ovarian cancer markers and calculates the risk for malignant disease using CA 125 and HE4 results and a woman’s menopausal status.
During the scan you will be asked to uncover your pelvic area and a small amount of jelly will be placed over your skin. An ultrasound camera will then be placed on top and moved along your pelvis. This will result in a picture appearing on the ultrasound monitor and patient TV.
The examination itself usually lasts around 10-15 minutes and is pain free.
Sometimes you may also require an internal scan. For this scan you will be asked to empty your bladder. You will need to take everything bottom half off and a sheet will be provided to cover yourself with. You will be laying on your back and a camera will be placed inside your vagina which will be moved around to obtain information. This procedure is usually pain free however occasionally you may experience some discomfort. You will be able to pause or stop this procedure at any time if you feel the need to.
The blood test is just like a standard blood test.
We will require details of your GP / Health Care Professional, which may be requested prior to or at the time of the scan.
We pride ourselves on providing the best quality service we can which is why we are trusted by GP’s, doctors, physiotherapists, midwifes and many other healthcare professionals.
Our mission of better quality healthcare for everyone really sets us apart from the vast majority of other clinics and is the main reason why we are amongst the few diagnostic clinics to not only be approved by but also provide services to the NHS and thus the general public. This also means that unlike many other clinics we have additional strict quality control measures which we must adhere to meaning you are in safe hands with us and our team.
Study images from the ultrasound scan are not typically provided but can be requested separately after the ultrasound scan. There is a small administration charge to produce them and they can be provided in either an electronic PDF format or put on a CD and posted to you.
Please contact our customer care team for more support on this.
You will receive a verbal summary of the ultrasound scan findings after your scan appointment.
Full results including the diagnostic scan report and summary report from one of our GP partners will be securely emailed to you within 2-3 days after your appointment.
Note: all reports are password protected for your safety, details of the password will be mentioned in the email containing the report.
- Deposit payment or payment in full will be required at the time of booking.
- We will require details of your GP / Health Care Professional, which may be requested prior to or at the time of your appointment.
Typically the ultrasound scan portion of the health check should last between 35-45 minutes.
The blood test should only last between 5-10 minutes.
This is a guide and actual times may vary slightly.
You will be seen by a healthcare professional who specialises in clinical medical ultrasound. Unlike other diagnostic tests which produce results for analysis, ultrasound imaging is “real- time” therefore the quality of the scan being performed is the basis of the information you take away and heavily depends upon the expertise, experience and skill of the healthcare professional scanning you.
This is an important point which is often overlooked by many people when deciding where to go, therefore you can be reassured that at The Scan Clinic you will always be seen by an expert who has vast expertise and experience in the field of medical ultrasound.