Red Book

Early detection of cancers

Ovarian cancer

Age range chart

0-9 10-14 15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50-54 55-59 60-64 65-69 70-79 >80

Not recommended as a preventive activity


Screening in asymptomatic, low-risk women is not recommended. Screening methods for ovarian cancer employ blood tests for cancer antigen (CA) 125, or transabdominal or transvaginal ultrasound.

There are three large randomised trials on ovarian cancer screening:

  • the United States Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian trial (PLCO), which reported in 2011;99
  • the United Kingdom Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS) in late 2015;100
  • a European trial, which commenced in 2005 and has not reported yet.

The UK trial found a small reduction in ovarian deaths from CA125, and transvaginal ultrasound for routine population-based screening for ovarian cancer.

However, the results are regarded as preliminary, requiring confirmation and longer follow-up100 and, in the meantime, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends against ovarian cancer screening.101

 Ovarian cancer: Identifying risk

Table 9.6.1

Ovarian cancer: Identifying risk

This event attracts CPD points and can be self recorded

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