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Dr. Peter Ubel asks: Why No Uproar Over Ovarian Cancer Screening Guidelines?

Peter Ubel, M.D. is a physician and behavioral scientist at Duke University, and the author of Critical Decisions: How You and Your Doctor Can Make the Right Medical Choices Together.

I don’t know how I missed his November blog post that asked the question above, but I now know that it appeared on his own site and on Forbes.com.

It wasn’t until yesterday that I saw it on KevinMD.com.

Please read his full post.  But here’s how he sets it up:

“Why was this recommendation greeted with such malaise when the same panel’s earlier and similar conclusions about prostate cancer screening and breast cancer screening (in women less than 40 years old) created a tsunami of criticism?”

In our continuing efforts on this site to try to help improve the public dialogue about screening tests, Ubel’s post is important.

And, in our quest to improve what journalists write about screening issues, we hope to see better efforts than the one by the former editor of Prevention magazine, who advocated ovarian cancer screening despite the lack of evidence.

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Comments (2)

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Greg Pawelski

January 9, 2013 at 12:12 pm

I am one of those surviving loved ones who has seen the tragic consequences of an ovarian cancer diagnosis (before and after the chemotherapy concession). This is where I got the experience the rate of “false positives” that makes the CA125 inadequate for use “by itself” even for screening high-risk patients. Women screened annually for ovarian cancer are just as likely to die from the disease as women who didn’t have regular screening.

As Dr. Christine Berg from the National Institutes of Health stated in a recent study, “We know with ovarian cancer that when the disease is detected in stage 1 you can have 85-90 percent 5-year survival…The question is, can you detect the cancers that are destined on to be stage 3 or unfortunately stage 4 at an early enough stage that you can intervene?” My wife went 24 years after being diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian carcinoma. It is the “science” that doesn’t work.

One of my wife’s most remarkable sayings about her cancer, “it’s 90% Faith and the Will to Live, and 10% the Science of Medicine.”

Greg Pawelski

January 9, 2013 at 12:12 pm

I am one of those surviving loved ones who has seen the tragic consequences of an ovarian cancer diagnosis (before and after the chemotherapy concession). This is where I got the experience the rate of “false positives” that makes the CA125 inadequate for use “by itself” even for screening high-risk patients. Women screened annually for ovarian cancer are just as likely to die from the disease as women who didn’t have regular screening.

As Dr. Christine Berg from the National Institutes of Health stated in a recent study, “We know with ovarian cancer that when the disease is detected in stage 1 you can have 85-90 percent 5-year survival…The question is, can you detect the cancers that are destined on to be stage 3 or unfortunately stage 4 at an early enough stage that you can intervene?” My wife went 24 years after being diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian carcinoma. It is the “science” that doesn’t work.

One of my wife’s most remarkable sayings about her cancer, “it’s 90% Faith and the Will to Live, and 10% the Science of Medicine.”