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Ovarian Cancer Screening Exams

At this time, ovarian cancer screening is recommended only for women at increased or high risk. That’s because they have a higher chance of getting the disease.

Being at increased risk doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get ovarian cancer. But, you may need to start regular screening exams. So if you do get cancer, your doctor finds it at its earliest stage. When found early, the chances for successfully treating the disease are greatest.

Along with regular exams, practice awareness. This means you should be familiar with your body. That way you’ll notice changes, like abdominal discomfort or pain. Then, report them to your doctor without delay.

You should get screened for ovarian cancer if you have ONE of the following: 

  • BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations
  • Suspected risk of BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations
  • One close relative with ovarian cancer who has a suspected BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation
  • Lynch Syndrome (Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer)

If you fall into any of these groups, ask your doctor when to start the screening schedule below:

  • Transvaginal ultrasound every 6-12 months
  • CA 125 blood test every 6-12 months

If you have BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, you should get these exams every 6 months.

Talk to your doctor about risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy, or surgery to remove your fallopian tubes and ovaries. This surgery is strongly recommended for women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations after they’ve had children.

Check with your insurance provider before scheduling an exam. Not all insurance providers cover the cost of these exams.

Still unsure if ovarian cancer screening is right for you? Print and share MD Anderson’s ovarian cancer screening chart with your doctor.

Exams for women who’ve had ovarian cancer

If you’ve had ovarian cancer, you need a different plan to check for cancer recurrence.

Print and share MD Anderson’s survivorship chart with your doctor. Your doctor can use this chart to develop a more tailored screening plan for you.

The screening plans on this page apply to women expected to live for at least 10 years. They’re not for women who have a health condition that may make it hard to diagnose or treat ovarian cancer.

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For Physicians

Use our flowchart to determine cancer screening recommendations for patients. 

© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center