The potential harms of ovarian cancer screening outweigh the benefits, so only very specific groups of women should be screened for the disease, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) says in a draft recommendation.
“The task force found that screening women without signs or symptoms for ovarian cancer does not decrease the number of deaths from the disease, and may lead to unnecessary surgeries,” Dr. Maureen Phipps said in a news release from the USPSTF.
“Therefore, the task force recommends against screening for ovarian cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms, and who are not at high risk for ovarian cancer,” she said. Phipps is a member of the task force, which is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine.
The new guidance reaffirms a 2012 final recommendation made by the USPSTF.
Task force chair Dr. David Grossman said that “the current screening tests do not do a good job identifying whether a woman does or does not have ovarian cancer.”
The USPSTF “hopes that, in the future, better screening tests for ovarian cancer will be developed,” he added.
The draft recommendation statement and draft evidence review are posted for public comment on the task force website. Comments can be submitted from July 18 through Aug. 14.
Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer and the fifth most common cause of cancer death among women in the United States, the USPSTF said.
Current screening tests for ovarian cancer aren’t very accurate, and may indicate a woman has ovarian cancer when she doesn’t, according to the task force. These false-positive tests can lead to unnecessary major surgery to remove one or both ovaries, the panel members said.
The USPSTF noted that no other major medical organization recommends screening for ovarian cancer among women in the general population.
The American Cancer Society has more on ovarian cancer.