Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment

Mercy doctors and cancer specialists are skilled in diagnosing and treating ovarian cancer. We’ll make sure you understand your condition and we’ll work with you to find the treatment plan that’s best for you.

Ovarian Cancer Screening

The earlier ovarian cancer is detected, the better your chances for successful treatment. At Mercy, our physicians use screenings and exams, including biopsies and PET/CT or MRI scans to find ovarian cancer. Additional ovarian cancer screenings might include the following.

Pelvic Exams 

A regular pelvic exam allows your gynecologist to check for any abnormalities in your reproductive system, including tumors.

Blood Tests

The protein CA-125 is naturally found in the reproductive system, but the amount increases if you have ovarian cancer. A blood test can determine what the levels of CA-125 are in your system. While the CA-125 is not considered to be an ovarian cancer screening test, it is used to monitor treatment response for patients with ovarian cancer.

Gynecologic Ultrasound Imaging

A gynecologic ultrasound is used to take a look at the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. It can help reveal abnormalities throughout your reproductive system

Ovarian Cancer Treatment Options

We’re here to help you overcome ovarian cancer, every step of the way. Our goal is to find the best treatment for your symptoms and to keep you informed during the process. Your cancer care team will consider several factors when personalizing your treatment for ovarian cancer, including your cancer stage and type; your plans to have children; and your age and overall health. Your ovarian cancer treatment plan may include one or more of the following: surgery, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy.

Ovarian Cancer Surgery 

Surgery is usually the first treatment for ovarian cancer. It's performed to remove as much of the tumor as possible (also called debulking) as well as to determine how far cancer may have spread. Mercy has many skilled gynecologic surgeons who can perform minimally invasive, robotic-assisted approaches to surgery. Based on the results, surgical oncology treatments may include the following:

  • Oophorectomy - an oophorectomy is the removal of either one or both ovaries, often along with the fallopian tubes
  • Hysterectomy - a hysterectomy is the total removal of both the uterus and cervix.

Preventive Surgical Options

Preventive surgery isn’t recommended for everyone, but if you have a strong family history of ovarian cancer, surgery can reduce your risk of developing cancer as well. Options for preventive surgery include partial hysterectomy (only removing uterus) and tubal ligation (removing fallopian tubes). Talk to your Mercy provider about the risks and benefits of having preventive surgery for ovarian cancer. You may be a candidate for preventive surgery if you have:

  • Family history of ovarian or breast cancer
  • BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
  • Previous breast, colorectal or endometrial cancer diagnosis

Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy is not commonly used to treat epithelial cell cancer, but it can help with stromal cell cancer. Hormone therapy uses medication to raise or lower certain hormones in the reproductive system, often to increase estrogen and decrease androgens. 

Targeted Therapy

This type of cancer treatment focuses on the proteins that control how cancerous cells grow and divide. Targeted therapy can eliminate cancer cells while doing less damage to normal cells. Not all types of cancer can be targeted, but ovarian cancer is one type that can benefit from targeted therapy.

Radiation Therapy

This type of therapy uses X-ray energy to eliminate cancer cells. The kind of radiation therapy most often used with ovarian cancer is called external beam radiotherapy. In this type of radiation, the X-rays come from a machine that targets a specific point on the body.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is more commonly used than radiation therapy with ovarian cancer. In this treatment, one or more medications are used to fight cancer cells. Unlike targeted therapy, however, chemotherapy treatment can cause greater damage to healthy cells as the medication can’t always differentiate between cancerous and healthy cells.