Multimodal approach to screening for ovarian cancer

Lancet. 1988 Feb 6;1(8580):268-71. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(88)90351-0.


1010 postmenopausal women were recruited for an ovarian cancer screening programme incorporating serum CA-125 measurement and vaginal examination as initial tests and real-time ultrasonography as a secondary procedure in selected cases. The normal range for serum CA-125 in postmenopausal women was established. The specificity for ovarian cancer of serum CA-125 measurement and vaginal examination were 97.0% and 97.3%, respectively. The combinations of serum CA-125 measurement with ultrasound and vaginal examination with ultrasound achieved specificities of 99.8% and 99.0%, respectively. 100% specificity was achieved by serum CA-125 measurement with vaginal examination and by the combination of all three tests. The findings indicate that no individual screening test has acceptable specificity for ovarian cancer in postmenopausal women. However, the combination of CA-125 measurement with ultrasound did achieve acceptable specificity and offers the most hope of a specific and sensitive method for early detection.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / blood
  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / blood
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Ultrasonography
  • Vagina / pathology


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate