Ovarian cancer is abnormal cell growth that originates in one or both of the ovaries and can spread to other organs. The ovaries are female reproductive organs that produce and release eggs (ova), which are released as part of the monthly menstrual cycle in sexually mature women.

Ovarian cancer symptoms include abdominal swelling or fullness, changes in bowel or urinary function, indigestion, abnormal vaginal bleeding, and loss of appetite. Signs of ovarian cancer rarely develop before the disease has spread (metastasized). Treatment for ovarian cancer usually involves surgery to remove the reproductive organs. In some cases, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy may be used after surgery.

Here are some questions to ask your doctor (e.g., gynecologist, oncologist) about ovarian cancer. Print this page, check off the questions you would like answered, and take it with you to your appointment. The more information you have about ovarian cancer, the easier it will be to make important decisions about your treatment.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis

  • What type of ovarian cancer do you suspect that I have?
  • Why do you suspect that I have this type of cancer?
  • What kinds of diagnostic tests will be performed to determine the type and stage of my ovarian cancer?
  • Will ovarian cancer tests include physical examinations, imaging tests, laboratory tests, and/or biopsy? If so, what do these tests involve?
  • How should I prepare for these diagnostic tests?
  • Will any of these diagnostic tests be painful or require anesthesia? If so, what type of anesthesia will be used and how will my pain be controlled during and after the procedure?
  • What are the benefits, risks, and possible complications associated with these diagnostic tests?
  • When can I return to my normal activities following these procedures?
  • How long will it take to get the results of my ovarian cancer tests?
  • Will someone contact me, or should I call for the test results?
    Telephone number to call: Date to call:
  • Who will discuss these results with me?
  • What is my ovarian cancer stage?
  • What is the usual prognosis for patients with this stage and type of cancer?
  • How common is this type and stage of ovarian cancer? About how many patients with this condition have you treated?
  • Sh
  • ould I get a second medical opinion about my diagnosis and/or treatment options? Why or why not?

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Ovarian Cancer Treatment

  • What are the available treatment options for my type and stage of ovarian cancer?
  • What are the risks, benefits, and possible complications associated with each of these options?
  • What type of treatment do you recommend?
  • Why do you recommend this ovarian cancer treatment?
  • What kind of special care might I need before, during, and after treatment?
  • If it is recommended that I have a partial or total hysterectomy, how long will I be in the hospital? How long is the recovery period?
  • What can I do to improve my rate of recovery?
  • If it is recommended that I have chemotherapy, what can I expect with these treatments?
  • What are the possible side effects associated with chemotherapy?
  • How will these side effects be managed?
  • If I have a partial hysterectomy and chemotherapy, how will chemotherapy affect the reproductive organs that were not removed?
  • What should I do if my symptoms worsen or if severe side effects or complications develop during my treatment?
    Telephone number to call:
  • How will my condition be monitored during treatment? How will we know if the treatment is working?
  • Can I continue my normal activities during ovarian cancer treatment?
  • How will my condition be monitored after treatment? What types of tests will be performed?
  • What steps can I take to prevent the cancer from recurring?
  • Do you recommend that I participate in an ovarian cancer clinical trial? Why or why not?
  • How often will I have follow-up examinations after treatment?
  • Next Appointment:
    Doctor: Date: Time:

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 29 Mar 2009

Last Modified: 29 Sep 2015