Patients and Caregivers

Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer

Know the right treatment path.

CA125 + HE4 diagnostic
for determination of risk
of ovarian cancer.

Unfortunately, the majority of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer have an advanced stage of the disease. This is because it is a difficult cancer to diagnose. Many of the symptoms are confounding, vague, and can be related to other illnesses (bloating, abdominal pain, frequent urination, etc.), thus delaying the diagnosis further.

When symptoms are present, the following tests may be performed to identify whether a cyst or tumor is present.

Pelvic Exam

A pelvic exam, along with a rectovaginal exam, allows a doctor to feel for any abnormalities, such as lumps.


If the pelvic exam is abnormal or symptoms persist, then a transvaginal or pelvic ultrasound is usually performed to determine whether any cysts or tumors are present. Sedation is not required for this test.

In some women a pelvic mass is identified, which is then biopsied to confirm whether cancer is present. Approximately 20% of women will be diagnosed with a pelvic mass at some point in their lifetime.12 However, only a small percentage of these masses will be malignant. The CA125™ test is not recommended for use in diagnosing patients with suspected ovarian cancer as there are other benign conditions, such as menstruation, pregnancy, or endometriosis, that can affect the CA125 value.

Getting Care from a Gynecologic Oncologist

A gynecologic oncologist specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of women with cancer of the reproductive organs. They are specially trained in the surgical removal and staging of tumors, along with the chemotherapy and radiation techniques that should be implemented following surgery. Research has shown that ovarian cancer patients who are treated by a gynecologic oncologist have better survival rates and lower rates of recurrence compared with those treated by a gynecologist or general surgeon.3,9 Therefore, seeking the care of a gynecologic oncologist when you are diagnosed with ovarian cancer is an important step in the treatment process.

Read more about the benefits of treatment by a gynecologic oncologist.

Percent of Pelvic Mass Patients Who Received Comprehensive Surgical Evaluations per Specialty

Cost of Comprehensive Care per Patient Quality-adjusted Live Years

CA125 + HE4 Test Combination

In a recent study, it was discovered that women with a pelvic mass who had elevated levels of a substance called HE4 in their blood were more likely to have ovarian cancer, and that this substance has a complementary relationship to CA125. By looking at the levels of both CA125 and HE4 together, the accuracy in predicting the presence of ovarian cancer increased significantly.9

A follow-up study demonstrated the ability of the dual marker combination of HE4+CA125 and the Risk of Ovarian Malignancy Algorithm (ROMA™) to classify women into high- and low-risk groups. This is an important and exciting new development in ovarian cancer research because it can help steer patients down the right treatment path for optimal care.