Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Panel: ovarian screenings do more harm than good

The United States Preventive Services Task Force said this week that tests commonly recommended to screen healthy women for ovarian cancer do more harm than good and should not be performed. The screenings - blood tests for a substance linked to cancer and ultrasound scans to examine the ovaries - do not lower the death rate from the disease, and they yield many false-positive results that lead to unnecessary operations with high complication rates.

The advice against testing applies only to healthy women with an average risk of ovarian cancer, not to those with suspicious symptoms or those at high risk because they carry certain genetic mutations or have a family history of the disease.

The recommendations are just the latest in a series of challenges to cancer screenings issued by the panel, which has also rejected P.S.A. screening for prostate cancer in men and routine mammograms in women under 50. The task force is a group of 16 experts, appointed by the government but independent, that makes recommendations about screening tests and other efforts to prevent disease. Its advice is based on medical evidence, not cost.

The recommendations against screening for ovarian cancer were published on Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine.

No comments: