Last month, a panel of medical experts recommended that routine ovarian cancer screenings be discouraged. They cited a study which found that the screening did not do anything to save the lives of women diagnosed with this disease. The study also found that ovarian cancer screenings could actually do more harm than good, often leading to misdiagnosis, unnecessary surgeries and complications.
The United States Preventative Task Force was behind this recommendation. The task force warned in 2004 that the screenings might not be necessary. Now, the panel has reviewed a study on ovarian cancer screening published in
The Journal of the American Medical Association that affirms this recommendation.
The study looked at 78,216 women between the ages of 55 and 74. Half of the women were screened for ovarian cancer. To check for ovarian cancer, the women had ultrasounds to look at their ovaries and blood tests. The blood tests looked for higher than usual levels of CA-125. This substance can be a signal that ovarian cancer is present. Both groups of women were followed by the study for 11 to 13 years.
The thought behind routine ovarian cancer screenings is that catching the disease early might save a woman’s life. This is not the case, however, based on the recent study. The study found that whether the women had been screened or not made no difference in whether they died for ovarian cancer. The death rates in both groups were the same.
The study also suggested that the screening itself may cause harm. Screening led to false positives for some women in the study. In total, 1,080 women went through surgery only to find out that they did not actually have the disease. Approximately 15 percent of the women that had surgery, suffered from one or more serious surgical complications. Some complications included blood clots, infections and damage to other organs.
Recommendations from Medical Experts
The panel believes that this study reveals the unnecessary dangers of screening average women for ovarian cancer. Some also point to flaws in the current methods of screening. For example, elevated levels of CA-125 in a person’s blood can be a sign of other noncancerous conditions. Additionally, ultrasounds might show ovarian enlargements or benign cysts. Unfortunately, the only way to discover if this is cancer is with surgery to remove the ovary.
The panel is not the first to make this recommendation. The American Cancer Society and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have been warning of this type of screening for years.
But the advice to abstain from this screening is not for everyone. Medical experts still believe that women with possible symptoms of ovarian cancer, such as persistent bloating, pain in the pelvic or abdominal area, feeling full more quickly when eating or the frequent urination, should be screened. Women who have genetic mutations or a family history of ovarian cancer should also be screened.
If You Have Been Misdiagnosed with Cancer
If you were misdiagnosed with ovarian cancer, or another medical condition, and suffered as result you may have a claim for medical malpractice. Consider contacting a malpractice attorney knowledgeable about misdiagnosis errors to evaluate your case. An experienced lawyer can help ensure you receive the compensation you need and deserve.