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New blood test for early detection of ovarian cancer appears foolproof: US researchers

Thursday, August 19, 2010, 18:14 This news item was posted in Discoveries category and has 0 Comments so far.

A new blood test to detect ovarian cancers shows great promise, according to US researchers.

The new screening test uses just only one drop of blood to find out the occurrence of ovarian cancer. The blood test appeared to be almost 100 foolproof in identifying cases of ovarian cancer, said the Georgia Institute of Technology researchers.

The preliminary trials using the test were conducted in a sample group involving 94 subjects. Forty-four had ovarian cancer and 50 had benign conditions.

“Because ovarian cancer is a disease of relatively low prevalence, it’s essential that tests for it be extremely accurate,” John F. McDonald, chief research scientist at the Ovarian Cancer Institute in Atlanta and a professor of biology at Georgia Tech, said in a news release from the school. “We believe we may have developed such a test.”

The researchers who reported their finding online in the current issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention Research also pointed out that ovarian cancer is asymptomatic in its early stages, prompting a need for a screening approach that can identify the onset of this “silent killer.”

The new blood test found to register no false positive or negative results, was developed by Facundo Fernandez, an associate professor in the school of chemistry and biochemistry.

The ovarian screening test is now being tested in 500 patients.

“The caveat is we don’t currently have 500 patients with the same type of ovarian cancer, so we’re going to look at other types of ovarian cancer,” Fernandez said in the news release. “It’s possible that there are also signatures for other cancers, not just ovarian, so we’re also going to be using the same approach to look at other types of cancers. We’ll be working with collaborators in Atlanta and elsewhere.”

About 80 percent of patients with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at very advanced stages of the disease because at the present there is no proven screening method that has shown to be effective at catching the disease at an early stage.And among patients that are diagnosed at late stages, only subsets have any chance of cure. For example, Stage 3 disease chances drop to the 15 to 20 percent range in terms of long-term disease survival, experts said.

So, according to them, if this particular technique now being studied translates into a once-a-year blood test that could actually be sensitive to very specific biomarker patterns linked to ovarian cancer at an early stage, then it would be a huge improvement in ovarian cancer treatment, even if it is only applicable to high-risk groups.

Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries. Women have 2 ovaries, one on each side of the uterus in the pelvis. The ovaries produce eggs called ova. They are also the main source of a woman’s female hormones, estrogen and progesterone.

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