Screening for Ovarian Cancer: April 12, 2017
It’s one of the most common cancer deaths for women, but doctors say there’s no way to screen for ovarian cancer.
Dr. Fadi Abu Shahin, a gynecologic oncologist on the medical staff of Lee Health, says common symptoms of ovarian cancer are bloating, indigestion, and change in appetite. “For many years we thought of ovarian cancer as the silent killer, because most women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer at an advanced stage, stage three and four when the cancer had already spread in the abdomen.”
Ovarian cancer can include more than one disease. It can be a cancer of the ovary and fallopian tube. It often goes undetected until its spread throughout the pelvis and stomach. “At this point, there’s no approved screening that has shown that it makes a difference. For a screening test of ovarian cancer to be approved and used it has to show that it’s going to allow us to diagnose those cancers early, to make a difference in terms of outcomes, and survival, and cure rates for patients,” said Dr. Shahin.
At this time, studies show screening for ovarian cancer would cause more harm than good. “The largest study that was done here in the United States shows that you hurt more women by trying to screen for ovarian cancer than the women you help,” said Dr. Shahin.
But doctors are addressing a patient’s symptoms and family genetics. “Women who have a strong family history of ovarian and breast cancer should be evaluated to find out if they carry genes that predispose to that cancer,” said Dr. Shahin.
Making it important to know your body and your family history.