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Task Force Finds No Benefit in Screening for Ovarian Cancer

Many women have false-positive test results (Sept. 11)

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against screening for ovarian cancer in women. The final recommendation on this topic, released on September 11, applies to women who show no signs or symptoms of the disease and who do not have known genetic mutations (such as BRCA1 and BRCA2) that put them at increased risk for the disease.

“There is no existing method of screening for ovarian cancer that is effective in reducing deaths,” stated Task Force chair Virginia Moyer, MD, MPH. “In fact, a high percentage of women who undergo screening experience false-positive test results and consequently may be subjected to unnecessary harms, such as major surgery.”

Screening guidelines by other medical and public health organizations are in line with the Task Force’s recommendation. For example, screening asymptomatic, average-risk women for ovarian cancer is not currently recommended by the American Cancer Society or by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“Currently, routine screening for ovarian cancer has no proven benefit and may actually lead to important harms,” stated Dr. Moyer. “In light of this, there is a critical need to develop better screening tests for ovarian cancer.”

The Task Force’s final recommendation has been published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

For more information, visit the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Web site.

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