A major screening for ovarian cancer did not prevent early deaths, a new study has found.
More than 200,000 women underwent annual screenings for 16 years in the major trial by researchers from University College London, but it failed to reduce deaths from the disease.
Women aged 50-74 were enrolled in the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening between 2001 and 2005.
Women were tested for rising levels of CA125 in their bloodstream, which is a chemical released by ovarian tumours.
They were split into three groups and either underwent multimodal screening, which is a blood test alongside an ultrasound scan, a vaginal ultrasound screening, or had no screening whatsoever.
This led to almost 40 per cent of stage one or stage two cases of cancer being detected, and 10 per cent fewer stage four and stage five cases.
However, neither screening method reduced deaths from ovarian cancer.
The researchers said the results, published in the journal The Lancet, were a disappointment.
Lead investigator of the trial Professor Usha Menon said better screening tests were needed.
"We are disappointed as this is not the outcome we and everyone involved in the trial had hoped and worked for over so many years. To save lives, we will require a better screening test that detects ovarian cancer earlier and in more women than the multimodal screening strategy we used," she explained.
More than 4,000 women die from ovarian cancer each year in the U.K., and symptoms include constipation, bloating, feeling full quickly when eating and back pain.