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Gynecol Oncol. 2010 Oct;119(1):7-17. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2010.06.003. Epub 2010 Aug 7.

SGO White Paper on ovarian cancer: etiology, screening and surveillance.

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  • 1Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.


Ovarian cancer is a heterogeneous, rapidly progressive, highly lethal disease of low prevalence. The etiology remains poorly understood. Numerous risk factors have been identified, the most prominent involving an inherited predisposition in 10% of cases. Women with germline mutations associated with Hereditary Breast/Ovarian Cancer and Lynch syndromes have dramatically elevated risks (up to 46% and 12%, respectively). Risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy is the best method to prevent ovarian cancer in these high-risk women. Significant risk reduction is also seen in the general population who use oral contraceptives. Since up to 89% patients with early-stage disease have symptoms prior to diagnosis, increased awareness of the medical community may facilitate further workup in patients who otherwise would have had a delay. Despite enormous effort, there is no proof that routine screening for ovarian cancer in either the high-risk or general populations with serum markers, sonograms, or pelvic examinations decreases mortality. Further evaluation is needed to determine whether any novel biomarkers, or panels of markers, have clinical utility in early detection. Prospective clinical trials have to be designed and completed prior to offering of any of these new diagnostic tests. CA125 is currently the only biomarker recommended for monitoring of therapy as well as detection of recurrence. This commentary provides an overview on the background, screening and surveillance of ovarian cancer.

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