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Screenings can effectively Reduce Death Risk for Ovarian Cancer, Study Says

Update Date: Dec 17, 2015 09:36 AM EST

A large trial has concluded that screenings for ovarian cancer can effectively lower death risk, especially if the patients receive follow-ups.

For this study, "The United Kingdom Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS)," the research team headed by Professor Ian Jacobs recruited 202,638 women from 2001 to 2005 who were between the ages of 50 and 74. The women were required to go to one of the 13 trial centers located in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

101,299 of the participants did not get screenings for ovarian cancer. 50,624 women were randomized into the multimodal strategy group (MMS), and received yearly screenings via a biomarker blood test that used serum CA125 to assess risk and a transvaginal ultrasound scan (TVS). CA125 is produced by ovarian tissue and could indicate cancer if levels are elevated. The remaining 50,623 women received a yearly TVS only (USS group). All of the patients were followed up on through to Dec. 2014.

At the follow up, the researchers reported that there were 630 ovarian cancer diagnoses in the no screening group. The number of diagnoses in the MMS and USS groups was 338 and 314, respectively. The researchers then used the Cox method to estimate mortality risk and found that found that screening lowered death risk from ovarian cancer by almost 20 percent. The team noted that the longer the follow up, the lower the risk becomes.

"These results from UKCTOCS provide estimates of the mortality reduction attributable to ovarian cancer screening which range from 15% to 28%. Further follow up in UKCTOCS will provide greater confidence about the precise reduction in mortality which is achievable. It is possible that the mortality reduction after follow up for an additional 2-3 years will be greater or less than these initial estimates," Jacobs said reported by Medical Xpress.

The study authors added, "The evidence from UKCTOCS suggests that carefully conducted screening using a multimodal strategy detects ovarian cancer sufficiently early to alter the natural history of the disease and reduce mortality. This opens up a new era in ovarian cancer research and care. Whether or not population screening is justified will depend upon a range of factors including further follow-up to determine the full extent of the mortality reduction and health economic analyses. Meanwhile efforts can be made to refine ovarian cancer screening, develop tests with greater sensitivity and more lead time and improve ways to risk stratify the population."

The researchers will continue monitoring the participants for another three years.

The study's findings were published in The Lancet.

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