Committee Opinion No. 716 Summary: The Role of the Obstetrician–Gynecologist in the Early Detection of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer in Women at Average Risk

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Abstract

Ovarian cancer is the second most common type of female reproductive cancer, and more women die from ovarian cancer than from cervical cancer and uterine cancer combined. Currently, there is no strategy for early detection of ovarian cancer that reduces ovarian cancer mortality. Taking a detailed personal and family history for breast, gynecologic, and colon cancer facilitates categorizing women based on their risk (average risk or high risk) of developing epithelial ovarian cancer. Women with a strong family history of ovarian, breast, or colon cancer may have hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome (BRCA mutation) or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome), and these women are at increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. Women with these conditions should be referred for formal genetic counseling to better assess their cancer risk, including their risk of ovarian cancer. If appropriate, these women may be offered additional testing for early detection of ovarian cancer. The use of transvaginal ultrasonography and tumor markers (such as cancer antigen 125), alone or in combination, for the early detection of ovarian cancer in average-risk women have not been proved to reduce mortality, and harms exist from invasive diagnostic testing (eg, surgery) resulting from false-positive test results. The patient and her obstetrician–gynecologist should maintain an appropriate level of suspicion when potentially relevant signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer are present.

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