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The Value of Ultrasound Monitoring of Adnexal Masses for Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer

Although ultrasound has so far been found to be ineffective as a screening tool for ovarian cancer, it is commonly used as a means of evaluating or following ovarian or adnexal masses once they are detected. We review the use of serial ultrasound for the management of adnexal masses and propose an approach to monitoring based on an understanding of the overall risk of cancer among the population in question and an assessment of how the potential benefit of monitoring compares with potential risk. In our approach, masses that are symptomatic, large (>10?cm), associated with an elevated CA 125 level or overt signs of malignancy, or that are determined to have a worrisome appearance by stringent ultrasound criteria should be evaluated surgically. Women with masses that have none of these characteristics should be offered monitoring. Short-term initial ultrasound monitoring carries significant potential benefit in terms of aiding detection of early malignancy and avoidance of unnecessary surgery. However, if a mass remains stable but persistent, the potential benefit of ongoing monitoring wanes with time, whereas the potential harms, in terms of patient anxiety, cost, and the risk of incidental findings and unnecessary surgery increase. Therefore, monitoring of stable lesions should be limited in duration in order to limit potential harms from overtreatment and overdiagnosis.

Authors: Suh-Burgmann E; Kinney W

Front Oncol. 2016;6:25. Epub 2016-02-10.

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