The FDA is alerting women about the risks associated with the use of tests being marketed as ovarian cancer screening tests. The FDA warns that these tests may result in “false-negatives” in women that are at high risk for ovarian cancer, thereby discouraging them from seeking the immediate medical treatment they need.
Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer related deaths among women in the U.S. and results in an estimated 15,000 deaths every year. Early detection and treatment is an essential part of winning the fight against ovarian cancer.
Several companies market ovarian cancer tests to women that they claim can screen for and detect the disease. The FDA is concerned that the results of these tests may be inaccurate, leading women and their physicians to delay preventative ovarian cancer treatments.
Based on the FDA’s review of ovarian cancer screening trials, as well as recommendations from healthcare professionals, the agency has found that ovarian cancer screening tests are often inaccurate and unreliable. It is the FDA’s opinion that “there are currently no screening tests for ovarian cancer that are sensitive enough to reliably screen for ovarian cancer without a high number of inaccurate results.”
The FDA advises women not to relay on ovarian cancer screening tests, and instead to talk to their doctor about ways to reduce their risk of developing ovarian cancer. This is especially important for women with a family history of ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer occurs when abnormal cells cause a tumor to grow inside or on the surface of the ovary. While doctors are not yet certain what exactly causes these tumors to grow, they do know that there are certain behaviors and demographic factors that can lead to an increased risk of ovarian cancer, including:
- Being older than age 63
- Use of an intrauterine device (IUD)
- Estrogen hormone replacement therapy
- Fertility treatments
- Other genetic factors
- Long term use of talcum powder on the genital area
September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, which means that it is an important time for you and your loved ones to talk to your doctor about preventing ovarian cancer. The more information you have about this deadly disease, the better.
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