Ultrasound and Ca125

• Before you have surgery for ovarian cancer, you may have an ultrasound scan. Your abdomen is coated with jelly, and the probe is moved smoothly across it. Harmless, high-frequency sound waves from the probe build an image on a television screen. A probe can also be used in the vagina to give a clear picture of the uterus and ovaries. Both of these types of scan are painless.

• You may have a chest X-ray before surgery. You may also have an MRI or CT scan to give the surgeon detailed pictures of the liver, lymph glands and other abdominal organs.

• Before surgery, a blood sample is taken to check your blood cell counts, blood group, and that your liver and kidneys are working properly.

• A protein called Ca125 will also be measured in the blood sample. Ca125 is a tumour marker, which means that the level of it in your blood may get higher as the cancer becomes more advanced. If your Ca125 level is raised, this marker may be used to monitor the response of your cancer to treatment, and to look for return of the disease.

• Ca125 and ultrasound are being investigated as screening tests for early ovarian cancer, particularly for women with a strong family history.