Removing Benign Ovarian Cysts Does Not Affect Cancer Risk
However, the researchers found this did not occur. In the years that followed, 387 of the women who had taken part in the screening trial died. The cause of death in 221 of them was cancer; and 22 died of ovarian cancer -- slightly less than the number of deaths that would normally be expected from the malignancy, based on population and epidemiologic data.
"There have been other studies that looked at this, and no one was ever able to prove anything. But none of those studies had this number of patients. In the early '80s, when this work was done, Ca-125 [a tumor marker found in blood] didn't even exist, so ultrasound was the only thing we knew to use," Thomas Lallas, MD, tells WebMD. Lallas, a specialist in ovarian cancer at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, was not involved in the study.
"We recommend that [women at high risk for ovarian cancer] see a gynecologic oncologist every six months to have a blood test for CA-125, a pelvic examination, and a transvaginal ultrasound. That's pretty much the state-of-the-art care," says Bodurka-Bevers, who is assistant professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.