Ovarian cancer often goes undetected in women until the disease has metastasized, which is why only 30% of those diagnosed with the disease live for five years after they discover they're sick. A massive new study tried to gauge the effects of early screening in saving lives of the women diagnosed with the deadly cancer.
In the new trial involving more than 78,000 women aged 55 to 74, some were randomly assigned to undergo two types of ovarian cancer screening, a blood test once a year for six years along with an ultrasound annually for four years; the remainder did not get screened. The participants were then monitored for about 13 years for ovarian cancer.
The results? Disappointing.
At the end of the trial, researchers found, both groups had about the same chance of dying from the disease. Screening also did not help detect tumors at earlier stages. What's more, 6%, or 3,285 women who were screened had false-positive results leading to unnecessary invasive procedures, including surgery to remove one or both ovaries; 15% of those who had screening-related oophorectomies suffered major complications.
On one hand, this is tragic and awful and it's dismaying that early screenings do nothing to stave off one of the most fatal types of cancer for women. On the other, the needlephobe in me rejoices. Sweet! No more doctor's visits! Fewer pokings!
Screening for Ovarian Cancer Doesn't Increase Women's Survival [Time]