A UK-based research study has shown that while ovarian cancer screening is beneficial for detecting cancers earlier, it did not result in a reduction of deaths from the disease.
The study from the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS) was published in The Lancet. Here, researchers tracked over 200,000 women between the ages of 50 and 74 over a 16 year period. Some underwent no routine screening, others did an annual ultrasound scan and a third group did a more comprehensive screening test involving both a blood test and an ultrasound test.
"UKCTOCS is the first trial to show that screening can definitely detect ovarian cancer earlier, said Usha Menon, the UKTOCS lead investigator. “However, this very large, rigorous trial shows clearly that screening using either of the approaches we tested did not save lives. We, therefore, cannot recommend ovarian cancer screening for the general population using these methods.”
Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths in women; an estimated 13.770 women in the U.S. will die of ovarian cancer in 2021.
The results of the trial highlighted how screening was not effective in women who did not display any ovarian cancer symptoms, but the researchers say, an early diagnosis may improve outcomes in those experiencing symptoms. Here, detecting cancer earlier could help reduce the amount and intensity of treatment required.
Unfortunately, the results of the trial show that such screening programs miss the mark in terms of saving lives. However, the research team said that the study did generate valuable insights into design strategies for future clinical trials.