Diane Salvatore, Editor-in-Chief, Prevention Magazine, writes on the Huffington Post about “The Cancer You’re Probably Not Being Screened For.“
Specifically, she advocates for transvaginal ultrasound screening for ovarian cancer.
Here’s what the American Cancer Society states about that approach:
“these tests are not recommended for women at average risk”
Here’s what the National Cancer Institute says:
“There is inadequate evidence to determine whether routine screening for ovarian cancer with serum markers such as CA 125 levels, transvaginal ultrasound, or pelvic examinations would result in a decrease in mortality from ovarian cancer.”
More from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center:
“There is no clear evidence to suggest that ovarian cancer screening with currently available methods will result in a decrease in the number of deaths from ovarian cancer.”
Ovarian cancer screening does more harm than good, study shows
An 18-year study by the National Cancer Institute finds that ultrasounds and blood tests aimed at early detection don’t save lives, but expose women to avoidable complications.
“Every professional group says ‘no screening for average-risk women,'” said Dr. Beth Karlan, who directs the Women’s Cancer Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai’s Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute in Los Angeles. “We need to be sober in listening to the result.”
In her column, Salvatore encourages readers to join the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance – among other groups – “to educate the public about this senseless killer.” But a comment left on the Huffington Post site in response to Salvatore’s column from a woman who says she represents the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance states:
“there remains no reliable early detection or screening test. Unfortunately, the medical data does not show that receiving a transvaginal ultrasound and CA-125 blood test at an annual exam will save women’s lives.
In fact, a multi-year study of almost 80,000 women showed that annual CA-125 tests for six years and annual ultrasounds for four years helped diagnose more women but did not save lives. False positive tests did not necessarily cause psychological harm, as this article implies, but rather physical harm through unnecessary surgery and associated complications from those surgeries. These are not minor risks; some women died as a result of unnecessary surgeries.
The current tools we have are just not appropriate for annual screening. This is unfortunate, as women diagnosed in early stages of ovarian cancer live longer than those diagnosed in later stages. However, we cannot advocate for policies or practices that are not firmly rooted in the science.”