I have symptoms – what next?

Make an appointment to see your GP

If you are experiencing symptoms that could point to ovarian cancer, you should make an appointment to see your GP.  Track your symptoms so your GP can see how persistent and severe they are.  We’ve produced a symptoms diary to make this easier.  Download a paper copy here, or download our free smartphone app by searching ‘Ovarian Cancer Action’ in your phone’s app store.

At the GP surgery

Explain your symptoms and concerns and present your symptoms diary if you have used one.  Your GP should conduct a physical examination which may include feeling around your stomach area for any unusual lumps and bumps, and possibly an internal vaginal exam.

Your GP will then take a blood sample to test your levels of a protein called CA125.  Elevated levels of this protein can sometimes be an indicator of ovarian cancer.

If your CA125 test comes back positive

This does not necessarily mean you have ovarian cancer but that further investigation is required. You will be referred to your local hospital for an ultrasound scan.  There are two types of ultrasound scan you might have: transabdominal - which involves a device being passed over the stomach, or transvaginal - which involves a probe being inserted into your vagina.  The ultrasound scan is to find out whether or not you require further tests.

Gynaecologist referral

If your ultrasound scan indicates that you need further tests you will be referred to a gynaecologist. They will arrange for further tests to establish whether or not you have ovarian cancer. These may include: a CT scan, MRI scan, a laparoscopy or a laparotomy.

If you feel you are not being taken seriously

It is important to remember that GPs will see these symptoms in women every single day, and the majority of the time it won’t be due to ovarian cancer.  However, if you feel your symptoms are persistent, severe, and are not getting any better then consider the following options:

  • Ensure your symptoms diary is filled in as comprehensively as possible so you are giving your GP as much information as you can
  • Take someone with you for moral support and to help explain your concerns
  • Ask your GP for a second opinion
  • Make an appointment to see a different GP at your practice
  • Visit a local walk in centre

You have the right to be taken seriously. If you would like further advice on speaking to your GP about symptoms of ovarian cancer then call us on 020 7380 1744.

For more information about tests you may have, questions to ask your doctor, and support if you are diagnosed please download our diagnosing ovarian cancer booklet.