Ovarian Cancer Screening Recommendation Stands, Panel Still Says Testing Does More Harm Than Good

An ovarian cancer testing recommendation made by a panel earlier this year, that aggressive testing and treatment for ovarian cancer may do more harm than good, was reinforced after a further review of the data.

The ovarian cancer screening recommendation was made by the US Preventive Services Task Force back in April, and the initial revisions to the guidelines raised a few eyebrows — after all, how can fewer screenings amount to better outcomes to women at risk of developing ovarian cancer?

But it seems aggressively screening for ovarian cancer and some of the interventions staged ultimately don’t lead to better outcomes for women and do cause some unnecessary pain, suffering and emotional trauma. Previous data revealed that one in ten women received false positives under the previous guidelines, and one in three of those ten had their ovaries removed as a result.

Pediatrician at Baylor College and chairwoman of the task force Virginia Moyer says that the only conclusion to draw is that the revised guidelines for ovarian cancer screening are the best way forward — she explains:

“This is very high-quality evidence, it very strongly supports not screening … There is a risk of serious harm associated with screening.”

Moyer explained that once a screen for ovarian cancer returns a positive result, the only possible interventions are invasive and potentially harmful, and she says “the only way to find out if there is something real going on is to do something very invasive like surgery, which in and of itself carries substantial risk.”

In an ovarian cancer screening fact sheet, the US Preventive Services Task Force reiterates:

“There is currently no sufficiently accurate screening test proven to be effective in the early detection of ovarian cancer.”