What Does Ovarian Cancer Look Like On Ultrasound ?

What Does Ovarian Cancer Look Like On Ultrasound ?

Ovarian cancer is considered as one of the deadliest for a simple reason that the symptoms are vague and it is not detected until it is too late. The survival rate in this type of cancer can be as high as 90 percent provided it is detected early in stage I itself.

It has been reported that blood tests and ultrasound scans together can detect ovarian cancer in 90 percent of the cases in the early stages. C125 blood test looks for a compound produced by ovarian tumors but there are other conditions such as endometriosis, benign ovarian cysts, pregnancy and pelvic inflammatory disease are known to produce high levels of C125. Therefore, the blood test alone is insufficient to detect ovarian cancer. Hence, blood test combined with transvaginal ultrasound is considered as a good screening option is going to be useful.

The malignancy of the ovary cannot be diagnosed with certainty by ultrasound. There are many benign pelvic conditions that can give similar results. Hence, an ultrasound scoring system is being used to predict malignancy. The ultrasonographer looks for the following characteristics while arriving at the possibility of malignancy.

  • Multiloculated cysts
  • Solid areas
  • Bilateral lesions
  • Ascites (Fluid in the abdominal cavity)
  • Evidence suspicious for intraabdominal metastases

A score of 1 is given for each one of the findings above and the result obtained is given in the tabular column below.

Ultrasound score

Benign (n=290)

Malignant (n=75)


79 (29%)

3 (4%)


112 (39%)

13 (17%)


99 (34%)

59 (79%)

It is observed that 34 percent benign cases also obtained more than 1 malignancy characteristic. Some times it may not be possible to confirm that the patient has cancer of the ovaries unless it is surgically removed and laboratory tests are carried out.

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What Does Ovarian Cancer Look Like On Ultrasound