Ovarian-Cancer Screening Can Be Hazardous
It seems to go against common sense to think of tests to diagnose ovarian cancer as dangerous, but according to a new study, it’s true. New research shows that women who get tested regularly have an equal tendency to get the disease, and die from it, as do those who forgo the screening. And in fact, they may actually be putting their health at further risk.
The research, conducted by experts at Utah Health Sciences Center, examined the results of a larger study, the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial, to determine the effectiveness of the CA125 blood test and the transvaginal ultrasound procedure.
One group of women in the PLCO trial received annual CA125 tests and vaginal ultrasounds, while the other group received no special screenings for ovarian cancer. Over a thirteen-year period, the study showed, the number of deaths from ovarian cancer were virtually the same in the two groups.
In addition, according to the study, the test results increase invasive medical procedures and their associated harm because these tests can show false positive, leading to unnecessary surgeries.
On the flip side, women who rely on the test to make a diagnosis may feel overly confident after a good result and then ignore the symptoms of ovarian cancer further down the road.
What should you do? Be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer: gas, abdominal bloating, feeling full quickly after eating, and abdominal pain. See your doctor if you experience these symptoms, and ask if annual screening procedures are appropriate for you.
Robin Westen is ThirdAge’s medical reporter. Check for her daily updates.
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