Yale Early Detection Program For Ovarian Cancer

The ovary is the fifth most common site for cancer to develop in American women. However, it is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in American women. There are more deaths from ovarian cancer than from cervical and uterine cancers combined.

An early detection program for ovarian cancer was established at Yale University in 1990 in order to identify

  • which screening tests are the most appropriate for detecting early ovarian cancer,
  • what frequency the tests should be employed and
  • what are the variations from the norm of these tests in a population study.

Ultimately, we wish to identify ovarian cancer in its early stages when it is highly curable rather than in the more advanced stages when overwhelmingly treatment is palliative.

The Early Detection Program for Ovarian Cancer is part of Discovery to Cure, a broad initiative to combat reproductive cancers. 

Additional Information

Participation in the Yale Early Detection Program for Ovarian Cancer is voluntary.

For further information, please call 203-785-6920.

Office hours: 
8:30-5:00 Monday-Friday

For appointments, call:
203-785-4176.

Patients are seen in the Yale Physicians Building at 800 Howard Avenue, New Haven, CT.

Participating in the Early Detection Program

Eligibility

Women participating in the Yale Early Detection Program for Ovarian Cancer must have

  • a first degree relative(s) who has experienced ovarian cancer and
  • be over age 30.

Participants fill out a very extensive personal history and family history form. They then are entered into our program, are interviewed by a medical social worker and nurse practitioner and undergo a complete physical examination by a gynecologic oncologist (a physician specially trained in the treatment of gynecologic cancers).

Procedure

First, blood tests are taken, looking for circulating molecules that serve as markers for ovarian cancer. Participants are asked to return in six months and one year following the initial evaluation for repeat physical examinations and tumor marker studies.

In the intervening three- and nine-month periods of time, participants have state-of-the-art transvaginal ultrasound examinations and color Doppler flow studies. These studies have proved useful in distinguishing benign tumors from ovarian malignancies and are now being used by our group to detect early ovarian cancer before it has produced any symptoms or has spread.

Participants are re-evaluated every 6 months thereafter with alternating physical examinations and ultrasounds as well as tumor marker studies.

Note: Women who meet the criteria for participating in this program are at an increased risk for developing breast cancer as well. Participants are urged to participate in an annual mammography program beginning at age 40.