Ovarian Cancer Tests Can Do More Harm than Good

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COLUMBIA - The U.S. Preventive Task Service recently said current testing for ovarian cancer can be more harmful than good to women's overall health.

A large study found no difference in saving lives between women who were randomly assigned to receive testing then those who received "usual care".

"Tests can produce false-positives and patients can be subject to unnecessary harm, such as surgery." Said Dr. Virginia Moyer, chair of the U.S. Preventive Task Force.

Ten-percent of women who underwent testing received a false positive, and one-third of them had an ovary removed for no reason.

A U.S. Government panel now recommends against ovarian cancer screenings for those who are not at high risk. Ovarian cysts have been believed to be a high-risk factor, but according to the new study only family history and those who carry the BRCA1/BRCA2 gene mutations can decide who is at high-risk.

Ovarian cysts are small fluid-filled growths that develop on or in women's ovaries. Ultrasound images of cysts look similar to bubbles.

Size range of cysts can be less than one centimeter, all the way to ten centimeters. Although most women have cysts ranging from 3 to 4 centimeters, and do not require invasive surgery.

Mainly cysts larger than 5 centimeters, where rupturing can cause internal damage require surgical removal.