In recent weeks, it seems many experts have weighed in against some forms of routine testing (at least at their current frequency), with yearly cervical cancer screenings making the list, and now docs say again that frequent screens for ovarian cancer may do more harm than good.
In a draft statement, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) reiterated their opinion that routinely checking for the presence of ovarian cancer is not the best approach- a recommendation the panel first made in 2004. While the advice may seem counterintuitive, the panel contends that aggressive ovarian cancer screening via transvaginal ultrasound as well as serum tests actually may be a net negative for patients subject to harrowing false positives and unnecessary procedures with a 20% rate of complications.
Studies bear out the panel’s latest recommendation on ovarian cancer screening, with a 2008 study out of Japan noting 33 surgeries resulted for every one that diagnosed a case of ovarian cancer. A study in 2011 included nearly 80,000 women, and found that rates of diagnosis and the rate of death from ovarian cancer did not fluctuate between a group screened regularly for ovarian cancer and a group that was not subject to screening. In the former group, 10% of women screened received a false positive result during an ovarian cancer screening, and a third of those women subsequently underwent surgery to remove an ovary.
Concluding that “there is at least moderate certainty that the harms of screening for ovarian cancer outweigh the benefits,” the panel also noted that the recommendations do not apply to women with an increased risk of ovarian cancer.