Women should skip ovarian cancer tests.
According to a major U.S. government health panel, women who are healthy should not be tested for ovarian cancer, which reaffirms their 2004 urging against the action.
This week’s recommendation in the Annals of Internal Medicine stated, “The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reviewed studies conducted since its earlier recommendation and found that ovarian cancer screening using transvaginal ultrasound, and a blood test called CA-125 doesn’t reduce the number of deaths from the disease.”
“This is very high-quality evidence; it very strongly supports not screening,” said Virginia Moyer, the task force chairwoman and a Baylor College of Medicine pediatrician in Houston. “There is a risk of serious harm associated with screening.”
Ovarian Cancer Death Rate Statistics
Last year a U.S. study of over 78,000 women found that those who were tested did not have a lower death rate from ovarian cancer than women who were not tested.
“By the time a tumor is visible with ultrasound, it is very advanced,” stated Dr. Moyer. “Meanwhile, regardless of testing method, the ‘number of false positives is stunningly high,’” she added.
“Sometimes physicians are enthusiastic about cancer screening before the [scientific] evidence shows that the benefits outweigh the risks,” Dr. Laura-Mae Baldwin, an investigator on that study and a professor of family medicine with the University of Washington, said in a statement.
“It’s a killer disease. It would be really great to have a test,” Blank said, but there are roadblocks. One is that there are not many “precursors” to the disease that are easy to detect with a screening test, she stated.