Screening for ovarian cancer has dubious benefits and may even be harmful to women, so should not be considered without further research.
The NHS commissioned report, which reviewed the flawed studies on screening performed so far, concluded that the possible benefits, risks and costs of screening need to be assessed in randomised, controlled studies first, before women rush out to have the procedure.
The test involves ultrasound screening and a blood test, and although it seems to detect ovarian cancer, it does not improve survival rates among women tested.
It is predicted that even if screening detected every single case of ovarian cancer and all these cases were treated successfully, only 1 in 2500 screened women per year would be saved. The review also indicated that of every 2500 screened, between 2.5 and 60 women would undergo unnecessary and risky surgery as a result of false-positive results (BMJ, 1999; 318: 687).