Blood test ‘may detect ovarian cancer up to two years earlier’

Henrietta Strickland
August 23, 2019

If diagnosed at stage one of EOC, there is a 90% chance of five-year survival compared to 22% if diagnosed at a stage three or four.

Researchers in Belfast have developed a test that may be able to detect the most common type of ovarian cancer up to two years earlier than current tests.

A new blood test can now detect signs of ovarian cancer up to two years earlier than the time taken for diagnosis of the disease at present, with scientists having identified key proteins' markers associated with the deadly disease.

"The results of this study are encouraging, however, we now want to focus on testing it in a wider sample set so that we can use the data to advocate for an ovarian cancer screening programme", Dr Graham said.

"Sadly, so many women are diagnosed late, to devastating effect".

Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer for women in the United Kingdom and in 2016, a total of 4,227 deaths were reported.

It could save thousands of lives, and will strengthen calls for women to be invited for screening for ovarian cancer as well as for breast cancer.

Many of these symptoms can often point to less serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, however, they are more frequently noted in women with ovarian cancer.

The cancer is hard to pick up as symptoms, including abdominal pain, persistent bloating and difficulty eating, are common in other conditions.

Current blood tests which look for elevated levels of a protein called CA125 have drawbacks because the protein is also elevated in pregnancy and during menstruation.

This offers patients a way to higher survival rates in a cancer that is picked up, in the majority of cases, at a late stage when treatment options are limited. "It's really exciting to see these encouraging results for this type of ovarian cancer", she added.

Lead author from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen's University Belfast, Dr Bobby Graham, said that the discovery was made by creating a simple diagnostic test to detect the biomarker.

Annwen Jones, chief executive of the charity Target Ovarian Cancer, said: "Progress is desperately needed in detecting ovarian cancer earlier. These are very promising early results, but the number of women involved is too small". We are hopeful the outcomes of this project will have a positive affect on women in the future'.

About 80 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed in the advanced stages of the disease. More than 270 die from the disease annually. Ovarian Cancer: Symptoms and Risk Factors Women Shouldn't Ignore.

Dr Drapkin said it's usually not until after a patient endures persistent gastrointestinal symptoms that they will receive a screening that reveals the cancer.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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