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Stanford expert weighs in on ovarian-cancer screening recommendation

You may have heard yesterday that a federal panel is advising that screening for ovarian cancer not be routinely done in healthy women. As described in an Annals of Internal Medicine paper, the harms of the screening outweigh the benefits, and so the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmed a recommendation it first made in 2004.

Last night, my colleague Michael Claeys sought the opinion of Jonathan Berek, MD, director of the Stanford Women's Cancer Center and an expert in ovarian cancer. Berek agrees with the recommendation, telling Claeys:

The data thus far do not support screening of women for ovarian cancer using the CA125 blood test and transvaginal ultrasound. Unless there are data in the future that support this, clinicians should refrain from offering these tests in this setting. Effective screening will likely depend on the development of more specific and sensitive imaging techniques and more specific biomarkers.

It should be noted that the recommendation doesn't apply to women who are known carriers of a genetic mutation that ups their ovarian-cancer risk.

Previously: Ovarian cancer overview in Wall Street Journal and Ovarian cancer tests flawed

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