New Ovarian Cancer Test Raises Doubts Among OB-GYNs

A new LabCorp blood test called OvaSure is aimed at early detection of ovarian cancer, but OB-GYNs doubt its efficacy and safety, as false positives might lead to unnecessary surgery and extreme anxiety. Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until later stages, by which point it can be too late to treat it effectively. A test that makes early detection more feasible would therefore be a wonderful thing.

From the article:

The need for such a test is immense. When ovarian cancer is detected at its earliest stage, when it is still confined to the ovaries, more than 90 percent of women will live at least five years, according to the American Cancer Society. But only about 20 percent of cases are detected that early. If the cancer is detected in its latest stages, after it has spread, only about 30 percent of women survive five years.

But far from greeting the new test with elation, many experts are saying it might do more harm than good, leading women to unnecessary surgeries. The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists almost immediately issued a statement saying it did not believe the test had been validated enough for routine use.

“You’ve got industry trying to capitalize on fear,” said Dr. Andrew Berchuck, director of gynecologic oncology at Duke University and the immediate past president of the society. “We’d all love to see a screening test for ovarian cancer,” he added, “but OvaSure is very premature.”

The test is good news if it is indeed valid, but raising false hopes and causing unnecessary procedures and stress is an adverse consequence of all this hype.

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