Alert
Close

Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'

HIGHLIGHTS

Open

REAL POSSIBILITIES

AARP Real Possibilities
Car buying made easy with the AARP Auto Buying Program

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and
Sweeps

Dream Vacation Sweepstakes

10 weeks. 10 amazing trips. Seize your chance to win!
See official rules. 

CHECK OUT OUR
NEW IPAD APP!

ATM Mobile App for iPhone and Ipad

Enjoy the best of AARP’s award-winning publications

on the go with the new

AARP ePubs iPad App

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

AARP BOOKS

Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Webinars

Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

Commented

share your thoughts

What does the health care law mean to you? Your story is important. We read and learn from every story and it helps us in our educational efforts. We may even use your comments (with permission) to brief legislators, inspire readers and more. Please share your story with us. Do

Health Discovery

Ovarian Cancer Screening Does Not Improve Survival

Tests can lead to unnecessary surgery

The results of a large new study show that available screening tests for ovarian cancer are not effective, and that they may even be harmful.

"I can't say we can identify anyone whose life was saved [because of the screening]," says Christine D. Berg, M.D., chief of the Early Detection Research Group at the National Cancer Institute and also a study author. "This particular combination of tests did not work, and there is no recommendation that anyone at average risk be screened for ovarian cancer."

See also: Surgery reduces breast and ovarian cancer risk.

Ovarian cancer screening found ineffective and could lead to surgery

Ovarian cancer screenings have been found ineffective and could lead to surgery. — Nathan Perkel/Gallery Stock

Known as the silent killer because it is rarely detected in the early stages, ovarian cancer kills 14,000 women each year. An estimated 177,000 currently have the disease and about 21,000 are diagnosed each year, according to the National Cancer Institute. The cancer will strike as many as half of all women considered high risk — those of Eastern European Jewish descent or those who have a family member with the disease. The five-year survival rate is only 27 percent when the cancer is detected in the advanced stages and as high as 92 percent when caught early, so doctors were hopeful this screening might help improve survival rates.

The study evaluated 78,216 women ages 55 to 74 who were not at high risk for ovarian cancer. Half of the group underwent annual screenings with both ultrasound and a blood test for the presence of CA-125, a protein found in high concentrations in ovarian cancer cells.

The other half underwent the usual medical care, which involves an annual Pap test and physical exam in which the physician feels for any enlargement of the ovaries — although this has not been proven effective in early detection.

In the end, 118 women in the group that got the ultrasound and blood tests died of ovarian cancer, compared with 100 in the control group. Some 33 percent of the women falsely diagnosed through the tests had their ovaries surgically removed unnecessarily, compared with none in the control group. The results of the study were published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association and presented Saturday in Chicago at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Next: What are the recommendations for high-risk women? >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Health Blog

Discounts & Benefits

bring health To Life-Visual MD

AARP bookstore

AARP Bookstore - woman reaches for book on bookshelf

VISIT THE HEALTH SECTION

Find titles on brain health, drug alternatives, nutrition and losing weight. Do