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Dr. Davidson on Screening for Ovarian Cancer

Nancy E. Davidson, MD
Published Online: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Nancy E. Davidson, MD, director, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and UPMC Cancer Centers, discusses two methods of screening for ovarian cancer, which have both been proven to be ineffective.

The two primary methods of screening for ovarian cancer include a CA-125 blood test and transvaginal ultrasound. These methods have been studied in several large international trials in women at risk for developing ovarian cancer. Overwhelmingly they found that although these methods were able to find some cancers the number of false positives and needless surgeries outweighed their potential benefits.

Davidson notes that it is important to always practice evidence-based medicine; this includes the need to weigh potential benefits with risks for any procedure. Physicians should discuss the risks with their patients while noting that in some cases, for patients at high-risk, these screening procedures may still be valuable.

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