A New York Times editorial, “False Promises on Ovarian Cancer,” captures the latest chapter in the history of the too-much, too-soon enthusiasm for screening tests that often takes place – enthusiasm that is later overcome by the reality of evidence. Excerpts:
“New evidence that women are more likely to be harmed than helped by screening tests for ovarian cancer is disturbing. The tests do nothing to prevent healthy women from dying from the usually fatal disease. Yet they often lead doctors to perform needless surgeries that cause serious complications in many patients.
Despite the expert advice against routine screening, a survey of 1,000 doctors published in February found that a third of them believed that screening was effective and many offered it to patients. Many patients request screening, believing that it can find the disease early enough to save lives. It is long past time for doctors and their patients to recognize that this assumption is wrong.”