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Gynecologic Cancer Diagnosis

Bloating. Indigestion. Feeling full. Discomfort in the pelvic area. Abnormal vaginal bleeding. Gynecological cancer may begin with vague or even no symptoms. If you are having symptoms, the oncology experts at Kettering Cancer Care are here to provide you with the information, counsel and, if necessary, the treatment you need.

If you or your physician suspect cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, vulvar or fallopian tube cancer, the Kettering Cancer Care team has a variety of tests to help you find out what is causing your discomfort.

Sonography, also known as an ultrasound, uses a small probe, placed either on the abdomen or in the vagina, to send out sound waves that help to determine if a specific area of concern in the ovaries contains a cyst or a solid mass. Sonography can also help to determine the internal appearance and complexity of the ovary. Ultrasounds are typically painless and produce no exposure to radiation.

A computed tomography (CT) scan is an X-ray that makes cross-sectional images of the body. A CT scan requires a patient to lie on a table while the scanner rotates around the patient and takes pictures from every angle. Prior to a CT scan, patients are often asked to drink a liquid that includes a dye that helps see structures in the body more clearly.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnets to get an internal image of the body. Before the MRI, gadolinium, a liquid that creates imaging contrasts in the MRI image, is injected into a vein so that the procedure reveals greater details.

A colposcopy is a procedure often done in a gynecologist's office. Acetic acid (vinegar) is placed on the cervix and the physician uses a magnifying scope to examine the cervix.

A laparoscopy procedure is conducted with the use of a thin, flexible tube that contains a light and a camera and allows a doctor to examine the ovaries and pelvic tissues and organs to determine if there are cysts, tumors or lesions. After a small incision is made in the lower abdomen, your doctor will insert the tube, which then sends an image to a computer screen so that your medical team can examine the pelvic region.

A biopsy is a procedure that takes a sample of a suspicious area in order for a pathologist to examine the sample under a microscope. When conducting a biopsy, your doctor may employ use a fine needle, a surgical biopsy or a core biopsy. A biopsy is sometimes conducted in during a colposcopy or laparoscopy.

CA-125 is a substance found on the surface of ovarian cancer cells and on some normal tissues. A high CA-125 level in the blood could be a sign of cancer or other conditions. The CA-125 blood test is not used alone to diagnose cancer.