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.
Ellen T. Matloff, MS, CGC, director, Yale Cancer Genetic Counseling Program at the Yale School of Medicine/Yale Cancer Center, discusses the proper age for a carrier of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation to undergo oophorectomy.
Genetic counseling—including testing and risk assessment—is one of the most rapidly growing areas of oncology and has become the standard of care for patients with a personal and family history of breast, ovary, or colon cancer.
For the first time, physicians have a clearer understanding of the optimum age for prophylactic oophorectomy in patients with BRCA mutations who want to reduce their risk of ovarian, fallopian tube, and breast cancer.