More Than 25 Percent of U.S. Women With Ovarian Cancer Not Getting Biopsies

A new study shows that more than 25 percent of women with early-stage ovarian cancer do not have recommended lymph node biopsies to check for cancer spread, which nearly doubles the risk of death, USAToday reported.

Scientists at the University of California Davis Cancer Center and California Cancer Registry analyzed data of 721 presumed early-stage ovarian cancer patients in California and New York and found that only 72 percent had lymph nodes tested for signs of cancer spread.

The five-year survival rate was 84 percent for patients who had lymph node biopsies and 69 percent for those who did not.

The study also found that gynecologic oncologists were nearly 6.5 times more likely to perform lymph node biopsies than other surgical specialists, and nearly four times more likely to perform all recommended staging biopsies.

Gary Leiserowitz, chief of gynecological oncology at UC Davis, explained in a news release that it is not clear why some surgeons do not remove lymph nodes during surgery for early-stage ovarian cancer. He speculated that the doctors may not believe it would be beneficial because the patient is either older or may have other health problems.

But unless a patient is clearly medically unsuited for the lifesaving biopsies, they should be done, study authors added. 

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