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Cancer Screening Recommendations: Lung, Oral, and Ovarian Cancers

written by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 8/12/2010

As we get older, routine health screenings become more common. Are routine screenings recommended for lung, oral, and ovarian cancers? Find out now.

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    Introduction

    This article focuses on the screening recommendations for three different types of cancer: lung, oral, and ovarian.

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    Lung Cancer Screening Recommendations

    Tests such as chest x-rays, low-dose CAT scans, and sputum cytology have been shown to effective at helping doctors to identify lung cancer in its early stages. However, these tests have not been shown to reduce the mortality associated with lung cancer, so thr U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not recommend routine lung cancer screening. Some of the tests used to diagnose lung cancer are invasive and uncomfortable, and the risks of undergoing these procedures outweigh any benefits of early detection in most cases.

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    Oral Cancer Screening Recommendations

    There is a very low rate of oral cancer in the United States, and there is very little evidence that oral cancer screening improves health outcomes for people with low, moderate, or high risks of getting oral cancer. Another factor in their consideration is that there's no evidence that suggests that screening for oral cancer is harmful or risky. Because of the lack of evidence regarding the benefits and risks of routine screening for oral cancer, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has been unable to come up with a recommendation regarding oral cancer screening.

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    Ovarian Cancer Screening Recommendations

    Ovarian cancer is a devastating cancer on the ovaries, which can spread to other parts of the body. Genetic screening and transvaginal ultrasound have been shown to help doctors identify ovarian cancer at early stages. However, the risk of a false positive CA-125 test is very high. CA-125 also results in false negatives, which means someone can have ovarian cancer and still get a clean bill of health of that is the only test used. Transvaginal ultrasound is invasive and uncomfortable for many patients. Additionally, if a positive result is found on either of these tests, subsequent diagnostic procedures are very invasive. As a result, the task force does not recommend routine ovarian cancer screening using the CA-125 blood test or the use of transvaginal ultrasound.