A leading government panel has renewed its 2004 recommendation that women at average risk for ovarian cancer not get screened for the disease.
The currently used blood test and transvaginal ultrasound may cause more harm than benefit for those patients, according to draft recommendations issued Tuesday by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
"Currently, the task force does not recommend screening for ovarian cancer," said Dr. David Grossman, a senior investigator with Group Health Research Institute in Seattle. "The tests that we have, unfortunately, just aren't very accurate and, with a lot of false positives, a lot of women get harmed with unnecessary biopsies and surgeries."
Women with a family history of ovarian cancer should be referred for genetic testing and counseling, the recommendations also state.
Two methods are currently used to test for ovarian cancer, a blood test that looks for the tumor marker CA-125 and a transvaginal ultrasound, Grossman explained.
However, a large study published last year found no difference in mortality between women who were randomly assigned to receive a blood test plus the ultrasound compared with those who had "usual care."
What's more, some 10 percent of women who underwent screening received a false-positive result and one-third of those had an ovary removed unnecessarily.
Another study estimated that 33 surgeries were needed to diagnose one case of ovarian cancer using the blood test/ultrasound screening.