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Removing abdominal fluid

Read about removing abdominal fluid as a test to help doctors stage your ovarian cancer.

A swollen abdomen

Ovarian cancer can cause a build up of fluid in your tummy (abdomen). This is called ascites. It can be a sign that your ovarian cancer has spread. It can also be caused by other conditions that are not cancer.

Your specialist will want to take a sample of fluid to check for cancer cells.

What happens

You usually have this test in the outpatients department.

First, you have a local anaesthetic injection into the skin of your abdomen. Once the skin is numb, your doctor puts in a needle to draw out some of the fluid. They send this sample to the laboratory to be checked for cancer cells.

If you have a lot of fluid, your doctor may want to drain it to relieve pressure in your abdomen and make you more comfortable. This is called an abdominal tap or abdominal paracentesis (para-sent-ee-sis).

Diagram showing fluid (ascites) being drained from the abdomen.jpg
Last reviewed: 
31 Mar 2016
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    National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines [CG122], April 2011

  • Newly diagnosed and relapsed epithelial ovarian carcinoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up

    J Ledermann and others; ESMO Guidelines Working Group

    Annals of Oncology. 2013 Oct;24 Suppl 6:vi24-32

  • The Royal Marsden Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures. 9th Edition

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    Wiley Blackwell, 2015

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