Panel: Healthy women should skip screening for ovarian cancer

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Healthy women shouldn't take screening tests to spot ovarian cancer, a U.S. panel said, reaffirming its 2004 recommendation against the procedure.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reviewed studies conducted since its earlier recommendation and found that ovarian cancer screening using transvaginal ultrasound and a blood test called CA-125 doesn't reduce the number of deaths from the disease, according to recommendation published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

In particular, a U.S. study last year of 78,216 women found that those screened didn't have a lower death rate from the cancer than women who weren't tested.

"This is very high-quality evidence; it very strongly supports not screening," said Virginia Moyer, the task force chairwoman and a Baylor College of Medicine pediatrician in Houston. "There is a risk of serious harm associated with screening."

By the time a tumor is visible with ultrasound, it is very advanced, Dr. Moyer said in a phone interview. Meanwhile, regardless of testing method, the "number of false positives is stunningly high," she said.

In November 2009, the advisory group of doctors said annual mammograms for women in their 40s have more risks than benefits; women at average breast cancer risk should use screening every two years once they turn 50.

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