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Doubts on Ovarian Cancer Relapse Test


5 Star

Doubts on Ovarian Cancer Relapse Test

Our Review Summary

CA-125 is the only existing blood test or tumor marker that is used for ovarian cancer follow-up. It measures a microscopic substance which is produced by the tumor and breaks off, circulating in the bloodstream. It is not elevated in every patient with ovarian cancer, and can be falsely elevated in people who have no diagnosis of cancer. That is why it is not very good for ovarian cancer screening.

This story reports on new results showing that women who got regular CA-125 testing after treatment for ovarian cancer did not have better survival than women who got no testing. These results further call into question the utility of CA-125 for monitoring recurrent ovarian cancer.

This story accurately describes the novelty, availability and harms of CA-125. It does not engage in disease mongering and does a good job of describing the current study and how it relates to current clinical thinking.

The story could have been improved by describing the costs of CA-125 testing.

This study – and this story about it – adds to the "more is not always better" knowledgebase that is growing in health care. Kudos to the NYT and to this reporter for doing a good job with it.  


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not describe the cost of CA-125.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story adequately quantifies the survival benefit with CA-125 compared to no testing.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


The story adequately describes the major harm of CA-125 testing, which is that it could lead to unnecessary treatment in women who would not benefit from it.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story does a good job of describing the current study and placing the results in context with current clinical thinking.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The story does not exaggerate the seriousness or prevalence of Ovarian Cancer.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


The story quotes several experts who are not involved in the story, providing valuable perspective on the results.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


Clearly no testing is the alternative to CA-125. The story could have also mentioned regular imaging tests as a way to monitor for recurrent cancer.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


Clearly CA-125 testing for recurrent Ovarian Cancer is not a new idea.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


Because the story quotes multiple experts, the reader can assume that the story did not rely on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 9 of 10 Satisfactory


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