Ovarian Cancer Screening Is Common despite Guidance from USPSTF, Other Medical Groups

September 21, 2012 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


Blood tests commonly performed to screen for ovarian cancer are unable to reduce deaths caused by ovarian cancer and can cause more harm than benefit to patients, concludes a U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) statement recommendation published in the September 11, 2012, Annals of Internal Medicine. Other medical groups, such as the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have been discouraging tests to screen for ovarian cancer for years. USPSTF’s recommendation reaffirms its guidance from 2004, and the recent USPSTF review found that there is still a high probability of false-positive results, which have led to significant surgeries and complications. One study of more than 78,000 women included in USPSTF’s recent literature review found that almost 10% of women who were screened had false-positive results and that more than 1,000 of those patients underwent surgery prompted by the test results. USPSTF says that the recommendation only applies to asymptomatic women.

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