Ovarian cancer screening may not help save lives

Jul 01, 2011

Ovarian cancer screenings may not save lives

Many experts believed pre-screening women for ovarian cancer would help reduce their risk of death, but a recent study by the National Cancer Institute found otherwise.

Researchers discovered that women who were screened on a regular basis were just as likely to die from the disease as those who were not. This false belief could possibly leave those who thought they were healthy without a proper life insurance plan, according to the study.

In addition to not catching the cancer early enough to treat it, the pre-screens have also led to more women removing their ovaries and suffering complications due to false-positive tests, the study found.

"We know with ovarian cancer that when the disease is detected in stage 1 you can have 85-90 percent 5-year survival," said Dr. Christine Berg, one of the new study's authors from the National Institutes of Health, told Reuters. "The question is, can you detect the cancers that are destined on to be stage 3 or unfortunately stage 4 at an early enough stage that you can intervene?"

The researchers followed 34,000 women, of which 212 in the screening group got the disease and 176 in the non-screening group were diagnosed with it. Of those diagnosed in the screened group, 118 died, compared to 100 deaths of those that were not screened.  

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