Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Ovarian Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Ovarian Cancer Screen: Risks May Outweigh Benefits

Screenings Don’t Cut Deaths Among Average-Risk Women and Sometimes Lead to Unnecessary Medical Procedures, NCI Study Finds

Screening: More Harm Than Good?

More than 3,000 women had additional evaluations based on the screening findings and about half of these women had exploratory surgery.

Surgery confirmed ovarian cancer in 388 women, but 1,080 women without cancer ended up having surgical procedures and 163, or about 15%, experienced serious complications as a result.

These complications included infection, bowel injury, and cardiovascular events, Berg tells WebMD.

In addition to being presented at the ASCO meeting, the study will appear in the June 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Gynecologic oncologist and pelvic surgeon Elizabeth A. Poynor, MD, of New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital, calls the ovarian cancer screening trial results disappointing but not unexpected.

‘All Hope Not Lost’

Poynor says more frequent screening with CA125 and ultrasound may benefit women at high risk for developing ovarian cancer because of family history.

And major advances in ultrasound imaging in recent years may prove beneficial for screening all women.

“All hope is not lost for these tools or for ovarian cancer screening in general,” Poynor tells WebMD. “We may not know the best way to use them at the moment, but that doesn’t mean they should be thrown out.”

What Women Can Do

Ovarian cancer is often called the ‘silent killer,’ but there is a growing recognition that many women do experience symptoms when the disease is still highly curable, Poynor says.

The problem is that many of the symptoms are also common among women without ovarian cancer, including:

Studies suggest that these symptoms can be more severe or frequent early in the course of ovarian cancer and researchers are exploring ways to screen based on this recognition.

“Women need to know the early warning signs and symptoms of this disease, and they need to listen to their bodies,” Poynor says. “Symptoms that are persistent or different should be discussed with a health care practitioner.”

And it is important that women know their family history of ovarian and breast cancer to help their practitioner assess their risk.

Today on WebMD

Ovarian cancer illustration
What are the symptoms?
doctory with x-ray
Get to know the Symptoms.
cancer cell
HPV is the top cause. Find out more.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
Integrative Medicine Cancer Quiz
Lifestyle Tips for Depression Slideshow
Screening Tests for Women
Graphic of ovaries within reproductive system
Ovarian Cancer Marker
Pets Improve Your Health
Vitamin D
Healthy meal with salmon