Routine screening for ovarian cancer a failure

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Routine screening for ovarian cancer is ineffective and at times can do more harm than good, a panel of cancer specialists has concluded.

"There is no existing method of screening for ovarian cancer that is effective in reducing deaths," said US Preventive Services Task Force member and chair Dr Virginia Moyer.

"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," added Moyer in a statement on the group's website and in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The tests include ovarian scans and blood tests that look at a marker that can be linked to the disease.

Not necessary for all

The group said they are not recommended routinely for women who do not show signs of the disease, or who have genetic mutations (BRCA1 and BRCA2) that put them at a greater risk of developing it.

Other medical groups already have made similar recommendations including the "American Cancer Society" and "American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists."

Ovarian cancer is fairly rare with 22 200 new cases a year in the United States and 15 500 deaths.

(Sapa, September 2012)

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