skip to main content
RadInfo Logo Home

Staging and Follow-up of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is a cancer that begins in the ovary or the adjacent fallopian tube and can spread (metastasize) to the peritoneum (a thin membrane that lines the abdominopelvic cavity), liver, spleen, lymph nodes, and lungs. Imaging tests are used to diagnose and stage ovarian cancer both before and after initial treatment. Staging helps plan treatment. Treatment options include surgical removal of the cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Chemotherapy and radiation may be used before surgery to hopefully shrink tumors enough for surgical removal. Monitoring for recurrence includes laboratory test (high CA-125 levels) or a clinical examination.

Contrast-enhanced CT of the pelvis, abdomen, and sometimes the chest is the most appropriate imaging technique for diagnosing and staging initial and recurrent ovarian cancer. CT detects local and metastatic tumors and can be used for guided biopsy to diagnose suspicious masses. CT may not find small tumors, especially in the intestines, peritoneum, and lymph nodes.

A PET/CT scan using fluorine-18-2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose is used for staging cancer that has metastasized or reoccurred. PET scans are not appropriate for initial diagnosis because they may give false-negative results. PET scans detect metabolic activity (tumors have high metabolism) and help locate microscopic tumors not found on routine CT.

Contrast-enhanced MRI is not used often in ovarian cancer imaging; MRI is a long procedure; if the individual moves the image is not accurate. MRI is appropriate for inconclusive CT scans (borderline tumor findings) and helps preserve fertility (no radiation exposure).

If kidney disease prevents contrast-enhanced imaging, both CT and MRI without contrast may be appropriate.

For more information, see the Ovarian Cancer page.

This page was reviewed on December 15, 2021

Sponsored By

Please note is not a medical facility. Please contact your physician with specific medical questions or for a referral to a radiologist or other physician. To locate a medical imaging or radiation oncology provider in your community, you can search the ACR-accredited facilities database.

This website does not provide cost information. The costs for specific medical imaging tests, treatments and procedures may vary by geographic region. Discuss the fees associated with your prescribed procedure with your doctor, the medical facility staff and/or your insurance provider to get a better understanding of the possible charges you will incur.

Web page review process: This Web page is reviewed regularly by a physician with expertise in the medical area presented and is further reviewed by committees from the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) and the American College of Radiology (ACR), comprising physicians with expertise in several radiologic areas.

Outside links: For the convenience of our users, provides links to relevant websites., RSNA and ACR are not responsible for the content contained on the web pages found at these links.