Annual surveillance by CA125 and transvaginal ultrasound for ovarian cancer in both high-risk and population risk women is ineffective

BJOG. 2007 Dec;114(12):1500-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2007.01499.x. Epub 2007 Sep 27.


Objective: To assess the efficacy of annual CA125 and transvaginal ultrasound (TVU) scan as surveillance for ovarian cancer.

Design: Retrospective audit.

Setting: NHS Trust.

Population: Three hundred and forty-one asymptomatic women enrolled for ovarian cancer screening: 179 were in a high-risk group (>10% lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer), 77 in a moderate risk group (4-10% lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer) and 71 in a near population risk group (<4% lifetime risk).

Methods: Retrospective audit of case records, laboratory CA125 results, radiology reports, histology records and local cancer registry data.

Main outcome measures: Ovarian cancers occurring in study population. Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) of TVU, and CA125 as a screening tool for ovarian cancer.

Results: Four ovarian cancers and one endometrial cancer occurred. One ovarian cancer was detected at surveillance, three occurred in women who presented symptomatically between screenings. Thirty women underwent exploratory surgery because of abnormal findings at surveillance. Two women had cancer (PPV = 6.7%); one had ovarian cancer and the other endometrial cancer. Twenty-eight women (93.3%) had no malignancy. Sensitivity, specificity, PPV and NPV for TVU in the whole cohort were 33.3, 85.8, 0.6 and 99.8%, respectively. For high-risk individuals, the figures for TVU were 33.3, 84.5, 1.1 and 99.6, respectively. Combining both modalities for the whole cohort, the sensitivity, specificity, PPV and NPV were 66.7, 82.9, 1.5 and 99.8% and 50.0, 82.8, 1.3 and 99.7%, respectively, for the high-risk group alone.

Conclusions: Ovarian screening by annual TVU and CA125 is inefficient at detecting early-stage ovarian cancers.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • CA-125 Antigen / blood*
  • DNA Mismatch Repair
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1
  • Genes, BRCA2
  • Humans
  • Incidental Findings
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / surgery
  • Pedigree
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • CA-125 Antigen