Ovarian cancer screening using CA-125 and ultrasound is not effective

News item on the lack of effectiveness of transvaginal ultrasound and CA-125 as a screening tool for ovarian cancer

A group involved in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial in the United States reported in the June 8 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association that screening for ovarian cancer using the CA-125 blood test or transvaginal ultrasound was not effective in early detection of ovarian cancer. This is unfortunate as ovarian cancer typically causes no symptoms until it is well advanced and thus has a five-year survival rate of 30%. If the cancer is detected while still confined to the ovaries five-year survival is 92%. However screening using the combination of CA-125 and transvaginal ultrasound was found to have no effect on mortality from ovarian cancer in the 78,000 women involved in the study and in fact the screened women had significantly more adverse outcomes as a result of unnecessary surgical procedures carried out because of false positive screening tests.



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