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Gene Tests to Identify Ovarian Cancer Have Little Clinical Value

rs found no studies showing that changing treatment based on test results reduced deaths or improved quality of life in women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer. There are few data on the harms of gene-based tests for ovarian cancer, including the psychological impact of false-positive tests or delays in treatment that can result from a false-negative test.

A computer simulation model developed by the research team suggests that screening, even with the highly accurate tests, will not result in large reductions in deaths from ovarian cancer unless testing is very frequent (less than 1 year between tests). However, such frequent screening would also yield a large number of false-positive test results. The team stated that research aimed at improving treatment options and the discovery of treatment, lifestyle, or dietary choices that could prevent ovarian cancer would likely offer greater promise for major reductions in deaths from the disease.

"Ovarian cancer and its effects can be devastating for women diagnosed with the disease. The findings from this report will help to guide further research aimed at better treatment that may lead to fewer deaths from ovarian cancer," said Jean R. Slutsky, Director of AHRQ’s Center for Outcomes and Evidence.

This report is the first of a series of five evidence reports that are part of an inter-agency collaboration between AHRQ and CDC. As part of the CDC-supported Evaluation of Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention (EGAPP) project, the EGAPP working group will evaluate the evidence presented in the report and make recommendations in the near future about the use of these tests for screening, diagnosis, and treatment of ovarian cancer. Other evidence reports requested by EGAPP will evaluate the use of genetic tests for specific diseases or conditions, such as determining an individual patient’s response to drugs used in the treatment of depression.

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