Screening for ovarian cancer: a systematic review

NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination
Record ID 31999009323
Authors' objectives:

To provide an overview of the results of research evaluating screening for ovarian cancer.

The specific objectives are:

1. To evaluate the performance of the current screening tests for ovarian cancer

2. To assess the adverse effects of screening, including morbidity associated with surgical intervention and the psychological morbidity associated with false positive diagnosis

3. To report on the stage of development of newer methods of screening

4. To investigate the potential cost-effectiveness of screening in different risk groups

Authors' recommendations: Screening for ovarian cancer is currently unproven as a strategy for improving outcomes for women with ovarian cancer. Screening programmes should therefore not be considered until further research provides a better understanding of the potential benefits, harms and costs involved. While awaiting the results of the current trials, demand for screening is likely to increase, and a strong national lead on this is required. RCTs currently underway should, in 5-7 years time, give an estimate of any impact of screening on ovarian cancer mortality. The relatively low prevalence of ovarian cancer means that the positive predictive value of screening tests, even those with very high specificity, is low. Since the consequence of a false positive result is a surgical procedure, consideration of the overall impact of ovarian cancer screening, and not only the potential benefits, is important. The low prevalence also limits the potential cost-effectiveness of population screening. The balance of potential benefits, harms and costs of screening may be more favourable in the small group of women who are at significantly increased risk due to a strong family history. However, benefit from screening has not been established and therefore there is no case for establishing a screening programme in this group.
Authors' methods: Systematic review
Project Status: Completed
Year Published: 1998
English language abstract: An English language summary is available
Publication Type: Not Assigned
Country: England
MeSH Terms
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Mass Screening
  • Ovarian Neoplasms
Organisation Name: University of York
Contact Address: University of York, York, Y01 5DD, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 1904 321040, Fax: +44 1904 321041,
Contact Name:
Contact Email:
Copyright: Centre for Reviews and Dissemination
This is a bibliographic record of a published health technology assessment from a member of INAHTA or other HTA producer. No evaluation of the quality of this assessment has been made for the HTA database.