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CA-125 blood test, transvaginal ultrasound do not lower risk, have high false-positive rate

Thursday, May 19, 2011 (Last Updated: 05/23/2011)

THURSDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- The combined use of a CA-125 blood test and transvaginal ultrasound for early detection of ovarian cancer does not appear to reduce the risk of death from the disease in the general population, and harm may result from diagnostic evaluation performed after false-positive tests, according to research to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, held from June 3 to 7 in Chicago.

In the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, Saundra Buys, M.D., of the University of Utah and Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, and colleagues assigned 78,216 women aged 55 to 74 years to either annual screening that included annual CA-125 testing for six years and transvaginal ultrasound for four years or usual care, between 1993 and 2001.

The data revealed no statistically significant difference in ovarian cancer cases or mortality between the annual screening and usual care groups. The investigators found that ovarian cancer was diagnosed in 212 women in the screening group and 176 in the usual care group, with 118 women in the screening group and 100 in the usual care group dying of ovarian cancer. The investigators also found 3,285 false positives in the screening group compared to 212 true positives in the group. In addition, 1,080 women who received a false-positive exam also underwent surgery for biopsy, with 163 encountering at least one serious complication.

"The results were disappointing, but not necessarily surprising. The study shows that the available tests are not effective and may actually cause harm because of the high number of false positives. These results point to the continued need for more precise and effective screening tools for this disease," Buys said in a statement.

Abstract No. 5001
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Specialties Hematology & Oncology
Gastroenterology
Pathology
Internal Medicine
Family Practice
OBGYN & Women's Health

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