13 May 2021

A large scale ovarian cancer screening trial - UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS) – has not been able to demonstrate that annual screening saves lives.

The research at University College London analysed data from more than 200,000 postmenopausal women. Half of the women had no screening and the other half were offered a yearly vaginal ultrasound scan, or an annual blood test to detect a cancer-related protein called CA125

The results found that although blood test screening picked up 39 per cent more cancers at an early stage (stages one and two), compared with the vaginal ultrasound and no screening groups, this did not mean there was a reduction in deaths from ovarian cancer.

This means it cannot currently be adopted as a screening tool. However, Prof Mahesh Parmar, a senior author on the paper, has emphasised that in women who do have symptoms of ovarian cancer, early diagnosis, combined with significant improvements in the treatment of advanced disease over the past 10 years, could still save many lives.

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