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No evidence found to support ovarian cancer screening

Wednesday April 11, 2012
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In its first review since 2004 of the benefits and harms of ovarian cancer screening, the United States Preventive Services Task Force found no new evidence to support routine screening.

Scanning 64 studies, including controlled trials, systematic reviews and meta-analyses, the researchers found that a lack of accuracy in screening techniques leads to an inordinate number of false positives without a significant effect on mortality rates.

"Some new information on the harms of screening is available, and confirms what was suspected in 2004 about the hazards of screening — that many women could be subjected to unnecessary surgery," the USPSTF wrote in an evidence review.

"Several large screening studies currently underway should be able to provide direct evidence on the benefits of [transvaginal] screening ultrasonography or CA-125 [blood] testing in terms of mortality caused by ovarian cancer and other clinically relevant outcomes."

The recommendations do not apply to women at increased risk for ovarian cancer, such as those with a family history or those with known genetic mutations that increase risk.

The USPSTF will take public comments until May 8 before issuing final recommendations later in the year. To read the evidence review and comment, visit http://bit.ly/aF5NPd.

Sponsored by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the USPSTF is an independent panel of private-sector experts in prevention and primary care. Its mission is to evaluate the benefits of individual services based on age, gender and risk factors for disease; make recommendations about which preventive services should be incorporated routinely into primary medical care and for which populations; and identify a research agenda for clinical preventive care.

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