Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Comment on Screening Study

Sunday, June 6,  a study will be presented to the American Society of Clinical Oncologists regarding ovarian cancer screening.  The study, Authored by Karen Lu, followed more than 3,000 women for eight years, measuring their CA-125 levels annually.  These women were aged 50 – 74 and of average risk of developing ovarian cancer.  Those women whose CA-125 levels were rising over a number of years were given an ultrasound, and if the ultrasound showed positive results (i.e., presence of a tumor), surgery took place. Of the 3,328 women, 85 had an ultrasound and eight had surgery. The surgeries led to diagnosing three invasive ovarian cancers, two borderline ovarian tumors and three benign ovarian tumors.  Two women with borderline ovarian cancer were not diagnosed through these methods. 

This study shows that monitoring CA-125 levels over time in women of average risk for ovarian cancer may lead to an earlier diagnosis.  Scientists are waiting now for the results of a similar but much larger trial taking place in Great Britain which may also show a survival benefit to screening; results may be available as soon as 2012.

Recommendations: If you are of average risk of developing ovarian cancer, please consider enrolling in a screening trial.  If you are at high risk of developing ovarian cancer, please talk to your doctor about a monitoring protocol.