New Research on Screening for Familial Ovarian Cancer


In the most recent edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers in the UK published preliminary results from the United Kingdom Familial Ovarian Cancer Screen Study, a large trial testing the hypothesis that ovarian cancer screening may benefit women at familial risk.  Results showed that annual screening did lead to diagnosis at an earlier stage, and (while not statistically significant) there were also trends toward improvement in optimal surgical cytoreduction and overall survival.  Additionally, the false positive rate was acceptable.

In an editorial accompanying the article, researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center suggest that “while the study was not designed to evaluate the impact of screening on familial ovarian cancer mortality, these results provide a ray of hope that, at least for patients at risk of familial ovarian cancer, an effective ovarian cancer screening program may be achievable.”

They also write that the study “clearly demonstrates the importance of undergoing screening at the prescribed intervals and the negative impact of delayed evaluation,” and that it also “provides direction in regards to whom screening efforts should be targeted,” specifically to women with known genetic mutations, not just with family history.

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