Evaluation of costs and benefits associated with cancer screening should include consideration of any psychological and behavioral impact associated with screening participation. Research examining the psychological and behavioral impact of screening asymptomatic women for ovarian cancer (OC) was considered. Research has focused upon potential negative psychological (e.g., distress) and behavioral (e.g., reduced future screening participation) impact of false positive (FP) OC test results. Results suggest FP OC screening results are associated with greater short-term OC-specific distress. While distress dissipates over time it may remain elevated relative to pre-screening levels for several weeks or months even after clinical follow-up has ruled out malignancy. The likelihood of participation in future OC screening may also be reduced. Research focused upon identification of any beneficial impact of participation in OC screening associated with receipt of “normal” results was also considered. This research suggests that a “normal” screening test result can have psychological benefits, including increased positive affect and beliefs in the efficacy of screening. It is concluded that any psychological or behavioral harms attributable to OC screening are generally very modest in severity and duration and might be counterbalanced by psychological benefits accruing to women who participate in routine OC screening and receive normal test results.

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Published in Diagnostics, v. 7, issue 1, 15, p. 1-11.

© 2017 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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