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Why Screening Tests for Ovarian Cancer Are Not Reliable

Ovarian cancer commonly begins as a cyst made up of cancerous cells. As the cancer progresses, the dangerous effects spread to other parts of the body with the cancerous cells. Medical professionals have many detection techniques in place to determine if a female has ovarian cancer, but many of these methods are unreliable. Doctors warn that “there are currently no screening tests for ovarian cancer that are sensitive enough to reliably screen for ovarian cancer without a high number of inaccurate results” [1]

A commonly used test is known as the CA-125 test, an advanced blood test that measures the levels of the CA-125 protein. This test is not a reliable screening test because CA-125 can be elevated from other common conditions; however it is a helpful “diagnostic tool in postmenopausal women” [2]. In numerous cases, even though ovarian cancer was present, it was seen that the CA-125 blood test was not elevated enough. This is why the FDA recently issued a warning that stated that “women should not rely on ovarian cancer screening [tests] to make health or treatment decisions” [1].

[1] Preidt, Robert. FDA Warns Ovarian Cancer Tests Not Reliable. WebMD. Retrieved From: http://www.webmd.com/ovarian-cancer/news/20160909/fda-warns-ovarian-cancer-tests-not-reliable

[2] Detection. Ovarian Cancer Canada. Retrieved From: http://www.ovariancanada.org/about-ovarian-cancer/detection