Ovarian cancer screenings can do more harm than good

Ovary screening tests aren't recommended routinely for women who do not show signs of the disease.
Photo / Thinkstock
Ovary screening tests aren't recommended routinely for women who do not show signs of the disease. Photo / Thinkstock

Routine screening for ovarian cancer is ineffective and at times can do more harm than good, a panel of cancer specialists has concluded.

"There is no existing method of screening for ovarian cancer that is effective in reducing deaths," said US Preventive Services Task Force member and chair Dr Virginia Moyer.

"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," Dr Moyer said in a statement on the group's website and in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The tests include ovarian scans and blood tests that look at a marker that can be linked to the disease.

The group said they are not recommended routinely for women who do not show signs of the disease, or who have genetic mutations (BRCA1 and BRCA2) that put them at a greater risk of developing it.

Other medical groups already have made similar recommendations including the American Cancer Society and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

According to the most recent New Zealand statistics, there were 316 diagnosis of ovarian cancer in 2002.

- AFP

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