Panels says ovarian cancer screenings should be limited

Although patients living in Illinois may believe medical examinations only provide positive and effective results, some tests actually can be dangerous and give a misdiagnosis. This could result in unnecessary treatment and even harm patients.

Medical experts in a variety of specialties have cautioned that medical tests should only be performed when there is no other solution to make an accurate diagnosis or to rule in or out life-threatening and chronic conditions.

For example, members of a medical panel recently reported that ovarian cancer screenings may be more harmful than previously thought. The panel said the tests often give false diagnoses. Although the tests should certainly be performed when women have a high risk of developing ovarian cancer or when women show symptoms of the disease, the panel said that doctors tend to screen patients when they should not.

The panel said it came to its conclusion after reviewing a study that had screened almost half of 80,000 female participants between 55 and 74 years old for ovarian cancer. The women underwent exams of blood tests and ultrasounds to potentially be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, but the screenings showed no change in the death rate. The patients who were screened for cancer had the same death rate as those who were not screened in the study.

In addition, the study revealed that screenings resulted in 10 percent of the patients being misdiagnosed with ovarian cancer. A portion of these women ended up having surgery to remove at least one of their ovaries. Some of those women even suffered complications from the unnecessary operations, including surgical injuries, infections and blood clots.

Even though the study has proven there are a number of problems with ovarian cancer screenings, doctors should never ignore a patient’s concerning symptoms. When a patient does experience symptoms that are commonly associated with ovarian cancer, doctors should administer the correct tests to rule in or out the disease.

Source: The New York Times, “Ovarian cancer screenings are not effective, panel says,” Denise Grady, Sept. 10, 2012

  • Our firm represents clients in medical malpractice and negligence matters. To learn more about our firm and practice, please visit our Will County medical malpractice page.

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