Peritoneal Cancer

In making a diagnosis of peritoneum cancer, your doctor will begin by asking about any symptoms you may be experiencing, as well as reviewing your medical history and conducting a thorough physical exam. The following tests also may be performed:

  • Pelvic Exam — This test involves feeling the uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder and rectum to find any abnormality in their shape or size.
  • Ultrasound — This refers to the use of high-frequency sound waves that are aimed at the ovaries. The pattern of the echoes they produce creates a picture called a sonogram. Healthy tissues, fluid-filled cysts and tumors look different on this picture.
  • CA-125 Assay — This is a blood test used to measure the level of CA-125, a tumor marker that is often found in higher-than-normal amounts in the blood of women with ovarian cancer or peritoneal cancer.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan — This is a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body created by a computer linked to an X-ray machine.
  • Lower GI Series or Barium Enema — This is a series of X-rays of the colon and rectum. The pictures are taken after the patient is given an enema with a white, chalky solution containing barium, which outlines the colon and rectum on the X-ray, making tumors or other abnormal areas easier to see.
  • Biopsy — This test involves removing tissue from the suspected area for examination under a microscope. A pathologist studies the tissue to make a diagnosis.

    To obtain the tissue, the surgeon performs a laparotomy, an operation to open the abdomen. If cancer is suspected, the surgeon may perform an oophorectomy, where the entire ovary is removed. Occasionally a needle biopsy is performed, but this is not generally performed on ovarian tumors if surgery is planned.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.