Ovarian cancer screening tests not recommended for widespread use

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Nov. 28, 2005

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Currently available screening methods for ovarian cancer, such as transvaginal ultrasound or TVU, and testing for the protein biomarker CA-125, can detect the cancer either alone or in combination. But the tests also produce many false-positive results causing needless surgery, according to a new National Cancer Institute study.

Of the 28,816 healthy women who underwent the initial screening, 1,338 had an abnormal ultrasound exam and 402 had an abnormal blood test. Thirty-four women had abnormal results in both screening tests. Among the nearly 1,400 women with abnormal test results, 29 tumors were detected, 20 of which were invasive cancers.

Women who had an abnormal test result underwent a variety of diagnostic procedures to determine whether cancer was present. Of the 570 who had a surgical procedure, 541 were found not to have cancer.

The findings are the first published ovarian cancer screening results from NCI's ongoing multicenter Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. They appear in the November American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

"Ovarian cancer is a disease that is often fatal, and both patients and physicians are anxious to find ways to detect it at an earlier, more curable stage," said lead author Saundra Buys, MD, an oncologist at the University of Utah's Huntsman Cancer Institute. "However, the results from the initial year of screening show that TVU and CA-125 cannot currently be recommended for widespread use in the general population."

Note: This item originally appeared at

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