Ovarian Cancer Tests Questioned
The United States Preventive Services Task Force, on the heels of controversial recommendations against prostate and breast cancer screenings, has published an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine reporting that tests to screen healthy women for ovarian cancer "do more harm than good and should not be performed."
An expert panel claims that blood tests for a substance linked to cancer as well as ultrasound scans to examine the ovaries "do not lower the death rate from the disease, and yield many false-positive results that lead to unnecessary operations with high complication rates."
A statement from the USPSTF quotes Dr. Virginia Moyer, the chairwoman of the expert panel, as saying, “There is no existing method of screening for ovarian cancer that is effective in reducing deaths. In fact, a high percentage of women who undergo screening experience false-positive test results and consequently may be subjected to unnecessary harms, such as major surgery.”
The panel cautions, however, that the advice against testing applies only to healthy women with an average risk of ovarian cancer, not to those with suspicious symptoms and not to women at high risk because they carry certain genetic mutations or have a family history of the disease.
Unlike the reaction to the USPSTF statements regarding prostate and breast cancer screenings, this report has support from medical groups including the American Cancer Society and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.