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Ovarian cancer score ‘reduces unnecessary scans’

A GP scoring system to predict ovarian cancer will save patients being sent for unnecessary ultrasound scans, say UK researchers.

The study

UK researchers looked at 212 women with ovarian cancer and 1,060 age-, sex- and practice-matched controls from 39 GP practices in Exeter, mid-Devon, and east Devon. They found the symptoms independently associated with ovarian cancer were abdominal pain, distension, urinary frequency, loss of appetite, postmenopausal bleeding, rectal bleeding and abdominal bloating. These were incorporated into a score that GPs could use to indentify women with ovarian cancer.

The findings

The score had a sensitivity of 72.6% and specificity of 91.3%. The cost of identifying women with ovarian cancer in a practice population would be £5,090 for testing 2,460 women over the age of 40 in a practice with 10,000 patients, which will help identify 1.7 true cases of ovarian cancer per practice.

What it means for GPs

The authors said the score system had not yet been validated and so should be used in clinical practice with caution. They concluded: ‘This scoring system could potentially direct GPs to appropriate investigations for ovarian cancer on the basis of symptoms and save a substantial number ofunnecessary ultrasound scans being requested.’

BJOG 2013;120:1016-1019

Readers' comments (3)

  • Vinci Ho

    Sensitivity of just over 70% will leave some significant numbers of false negative .

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  • Vinci Ho

    Sensitivity of just over 70% will leave some significant numbers of false negative .

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  • It seems to me these symptoms are so non- specific except for PMB and maybe bloating and rectal bleeding. Women just accept these things,they really do! Surely if most of the symptoms are present then the damage is done and its too late!

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