4 Your Health

Study: Ovarian cancer screening doesn't always save lives

CREATED Sep. 10, 2012 - UPDATED: Sep. 10, 2012

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  • Charles Benson reports Video by wtmj.com

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MILWAUKEE- A controversial study published about ovarian cancer suggests screening could actually do more harm than good.

"Ovarian cancer is rare and there's no test available that can be used for detection," said Dr. Janet Rader of Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin to TODAY'S TMJ4.

Nearly 16,000 women will die this year from ovarian cancer, others will get the scare of their lives.

"If the test is positive, many times you don't have cancer and you have to surgery to find that out," said Rader.

That's a huge concern. Now a new study reconfirms what doctors have known for years -- that the blood screening test and ultrasound scans for ovarian cancers don't always save lives.

"It actually causes harm because if the test comes up positive, the next stop is usually surgery. Surgery has its risks and complications," says Rader.

The group making this conclusion has also questioned routine mammograms for women under the age of 50 and rejected PSA screening for prostate cancer in men.

But this time around there's universal agreement about concerns with ovarian cancer screening from other organizations.    

TODAY'S TMJ4's Charles Benson: "You are saying if there is a down side in taking the test, is it a false positive?"
Rader: "Yes, if there is a false positive, the test does not come back black and white -- there's a huge gray area."

But if you come from a family that has a high risk for ovarian cancer or there are other symptoms, Dr. Rader said by all means talk to your doctor about other options for testing.