Complication Risks from Unnecessary Ovarian Cancer Screenings

cancer%20slide.jpgUnnecessary screening for ovarian cancer using a test that often produces false-positive results can place women at risk of injuries, including unnecessary removal of ovaries. Therefore, the US Preventive Services Task Force continues to recommend that ovarian cancer screenings be restricted to those cases in which the person shows symptoms of ovarian cancer, or is already genetically predisposed to the cancer.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of cancer-related death among women in the United States, and is also believed the deadliest of all gynecological cancers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are above the age of 40, and the maximum number of cases are found in those aged about 60 years.

The current methods for the diagnosis of ovarian cancer are transvaginal ultrasonography and a test called the CA-125 test. This test is administered to determine the number of a specific type of blood protein in the person’s body that can signify the presence of ovarian cancer.

However, the risk of using the CA-125 test is that there are a number of other conditions that can also increase the number of these blood proteins in the person’s system. For instance, a person who is suffering from uterine fibroids or cirrhosis could also have higher quantities of the blood proteins. Even a woman who is menstruating, or is pregnant, could show increased levels of the protein, and this increases the danger of a wrong diagnosis for ovarian cancer.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force analyzed the most recent data involving ovarian cancer screenings, and analyzed the benefits as well as risks of screening. The Task Force found that there was a greater risk from the screening, compared to the benefits. That risk was mainly due to the false-positive test results that are often yielded by the CA-125 test. In fact according to Task Force, most women have a false positive test result when they are administered this particular test.

A false positive test result can be disastrous because it results in a wrong diagnosis, and as a result, the woman may actually be advised to undergo surgical removal of the ovaries. This procedure is called oophorectomy. According to the United States Preventers Task Force, at least one third of the women who have a false positive test result, were misdiagnosed, and lost their ovaries as a result. This surgical removal of the ovaries was totally unnecessary in these women.

Moreover, such surgical removal of the ovaries comes with a high risk of complications, affecting as many as 20% of the women who underwent the surgical procedures.

Therefore, the task force recommends screening to be only limited to those cases, where the woman already has a family history of cancer or where she shows symptoms of ovarian cancer.

The Indiana medical malpractice lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy LLP represent victims of medical negligence across Indiana.