Ovarian Cancer


Ovarian cancer is a tumor that affects any part of the ovaries. The most common ovarian tumors are epithelial tumors, which begin on the surface of your ovary. Some epithelial tumors are noncancerous (benign) or are unlikely to become cancerous (malignant ovarian cysts). Still, ovarian tumors can grow quite large and disrupt your body’s normal functions, so even noncancerous tumors may need to be treated. Our ovarian cancer specialists offer cutting-edge care at clinics in Milwaukee, Kenosha, Fond du Lac, and throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.


Ovarian cancer symptoms can be vague and hard to detect. They might also mimic other, less serious conditions. Signs of ovarian cancer can include:

  • Pelvic pressure, bloating or a feeling of fullness
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Nausea, constipation or diarrhea
  • Urinary urgency
  • Loss of appetite
  • Back pain
  • Fatigue
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain

Testing & Diagnosis

To initiate ovarian cancer testing, your ovarian cancer specialist will first perform a pelvic exam to feel your ovaries and other organs, checking for abnormal sizes or shapes. He or she may also insert a special ultrasound probe into your vagina (called a transvaginal ultrasound) to look for a tumor. If a tumor is found, you’ll need further testing to determine if it’s ovarian cancer.

Tests for ovarian cancer may include:

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): This test can be used to determine if a tumor is cancerous.

CT (computed tomography) scan: CT scans can detect a tumor and also show its precise location, size and involvement with other nearby tissue.

CA-125 test: Checks your blood for elevated levels of a substance that could signal cancer.

Laparoscopy: Allows your doctor to view suspicious growths or take a small tissue sample (biopsy).

Biopsy: Removes a small tissue sample for evaluation. The tissue can be removed using laparoscopy, traditional surgery or with a special needle inserted through your skin.

Treatment Options

Your doctor will discuss which treatment options are right for you. Ovarian cancer treatment may include:

Surgery: The most common treatment is surgery to remove as much of the malignant ovarian tumor as possible (called “debulking”). This often involves removing both ovaries (oophorectomy) and sometimes removing other reproductive organs, such as the uterus (hysterectomy) and fallopian tubes (salpingectomy), which can help prevent the cancer from recurring. If the cancer has spread, you may also need to have your lymph nodes removed (lymphadenectomy).

Your doctor may also recommend chemotherapy or radiation therapy, which can be used to shrink the ovarian tumor before surgery or kill any remaining cells afterward. 

Chemotherapy: These drugs help prevent the ovarian cancer from spreading to other parts of your body. They’re usually given intravenously, although sometimes you can take them in pill form. We offer intraperitoneal chemotherapy, in which the drugs are injected directly into your abdominal lining (peritoneum) to target cancer cells that may remain after surgery.

Radiation: High-energy X-rays target and kill cancer cells. 

Hormone therapy: A pill such as Tamoxifen is used to shrink ovarian tumors. 

Please note that some ovarian cancer treatments, such as removing your ovaries or uterus, will make you unable to have children. If preserving your fertility is important to you, let your doctor know; he or she will discuss the various options with you.

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