A combined approach for the early detection of ovarian cancer in asymptomatic women

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 1996 Apr;65(2):221-5. doi: 10.1016/0301-2115(95)02369-0.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of the combined procedure including pelvic examination and serum CA-125 determination, as a screening method for the early detection of ovarian cancer. In 2000 women over 45 years old, without any evidence of adnexal disease, pelvic examination and serum CA-125 determination were performed. When either the findings of the pelvic examination were ambiguous or positive, or the serum CA-125 level was > 35 U/ml, further investigation including ultrasonography and laparoscopy or laparotomy was done. Among 174 women with clinical findings of adnexal disease there were 15 (8.62%) who had serum CA-125 > 35 U/ml. Among 18 women with elevated serum CA-125 (> 35 U/ml) there were 15 women (83.33%) who had clinical findings of adnexal disease. In 15 women further investigation was suggestive of adnexal disease and surgical exploration revealed three cases of malignancy. One case of serious ovarian cystadenocarcinoma stage Ia, one case of borderline ovarian tumour and one case of metastatic carcinoma from the right kidney. The other 12 women had benign adnexal masses or pelvic endometriosis. In our study this combined approach had sensitivity 100%, specificity 99.70% and P.P.V. 22%. According to these data, the procedure could be a potential component of a strategy aimed to the early detection of ovarian cancer, regardless of the financial cost.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • CA-125 Antigen / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Pelvis*
  • Physical Examination / methods*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Time Factors
  • Ultrasonography


  • CA-125 Antigen