Ovarian Cyst | Diagnosis & Tests


How does my doctor know I have an ovarian cyst?

Often times, your doctor will feel a cyst during your physical exam. If you do have a cyst, your doctor will probably want you to have a sonogram so he or she can look at the cyst. What your doctor decides to do after that depends on your age, the way the cyst looks on the sonogram and if you're having symptoms.

What is a sonogram?

A sonogram uses sound waves to make pictures of organs in the body. It's a good way for your doctor to look at your ovaries. This kind of sonogram can be done either through your abdomen or your vagina. Neither type is painful. The sonogram usually lasts about 30 minutes. It will give your doctor valuable information about the size and the appearance of your cyst.

Are there any other tests I might have?

Your doctor might test the level of a protein called CA-125 in your blood. Sometimes this blood test is done in women who have an ovarian cyst to see if their cyst could be cancerous. A normal CA-125 level is less than 35. However, this test is not always an accurate way to tell if a woman has ovarian cancer. For example, some women who do have ovarian cancer have a normal CA-125 level. Also, this level can sometimes be high in women who do not have cancer, particularly if they are in their childbearing years. For these reasons, the CA-125 blood test is only recommended for women who show signs or symptoms of ovarian cancer or who have genetic mutations that increase the risk of ovarian cancer.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 09/00