Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Fact boxes and medical risk

Authors’ reply to Workman

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 10 July 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j3281
  1. Gerd Gigerenzer, director1,
  2. Kai Kolpatzik, head2
  1. 1Harding Center for Risk Literacy and Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany
  2. 2Department of Prevention, General Local Health Insurance Fund (AOK-Bundesverband), Berlin, Germany
  1. gigerenzer{at}

Evidence shows that, rather than saving lives, ovarian cancer screening with transvaginal ultrasonography and cancer antigen (CA-125) testing produces large numbers of false alarms. These lead to severe harms for women whose healthy ovaries are removed.1 Given the evidence, the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Preventive Services Task Force recommend against ovarian cancer screening. Doctors and patients can more easily understand this and other risks when they are presented in a fact box.2

Nevertheless, 28% of US doctors have reported non-adherence to this recommendation and screen women at no risk of ovarian cancer, and 65% reported screening women at medium risk.3 Over …

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