Early detection, experts say, is key when it comes to beating cancer, but when it comes to ovarian cancer, those tests can sometimes do more harm than good, according to a new study.
Each year, roughly 23,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Nearly 16,000 of those women die from the disease because most of the time it is caught too late.
But medical experts said some women who don't have the disease are misdiagnosed and are having unnecessary operations.
When it comes to ovarian cancer, women fit into one of two categories -- women with a family history of ovarian or breast cancer are high risk, while women with no history are considered low risk.
"Those women at low-risk end up having much more surgery to find out disease, which they don't actually have. So, there is an actual potential harm of over-screening women at low-risk for ovarian cancer," said Dr. Richard Boulay, Lehigh Valley Health Network.
You can take a blood test that will tell you if you are high-risk or low-risk.
Boulay said he agrees with new recommendations by the United States Preventative Health Services Task Force, advising low-risk women against screening.
Boulay said the tests currently used to detect ovarian cancer only tell doctors if there is a problem but don't definitively identify cancerous cells. The only way to do that is to remove the ovary with surgery.
Boulay said ovarian cancer usually hits women over the age of 55, but has been found in teenagers. He said the warning signs for the disease are vague, but include prolonged problems with a swollen or bloated abdomen, persistent pressure or pain in the abdomen, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and changes in urinary and bowl habits.
Boulay said the recommendations were made for women without those symptoms, but should you have them for more than two weeks.....
"Then a full evaluation needs to take place," said Boulay.
Just because someone in your family tests positive for the gene that is linked to ovarian and breast cancer doesn't mean you will, said Boulay, adding that if you have a history of breast or ovarian cancer in your family, you should take the blood test.