Ovarian Cancer Screen Shows Promise

A blood test for the protein CA-125, coupled with a vaginal ultrasound, can help detect the difficult-to-spot cancer.

By | August 27, 2013

WIKIMEDIA, NEPHRONResearchers from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have developed a highly specific screening procedure for ovarian cancer, the fifth-most common form of cancer among women. The screen includes a blood test, followed by a vaginal ultrasound for high-risk individuals. The findings were published Monday (August 26) in Cancer.

The symptoms of early-stage ovarian cancer—bloating and abdominal pain—are common to many ailments. If caught early, women with the disease have a 90 percent survival rate. Late detection decreases survival to 30 percent, making early detection critical.

For the current study, the researchers first assessed baseline levels of the carbohydrate antigen (CA)-125 protein. Women with low levels were retested yearly, whereas intermediate-risk women were tested again every three months. High-risk women were screened with a vaginal ultrasound and referred to a gynecologist. The team tested the procedure on 4,051 post-menopausal women between the ages of 50 and 74 during an 11-year period. Only 10 women were recommended for surgery. Of those, four were found to have invasive ovarian cancer. Overall, the new test showed 99.9 percent specificity, meaning there was a very low risk of false-positive results.

“The results from our study are not practice-changing at this time,” Karen Lu, lead author of the study and an oncologist at MD Anderson, said in a statement. “However, our findings suggest that using a longitudinal (or change over time) screening strategy may be beneficial in post-menopausal women with an average risk of developing ovarian cancer.”

Sarah Blagden, an oncology consultant at Imperial College London, told The Guardian that there is a risk that such a test would give women a false sense of security and make them less likely to report symptoms to their doctor. “If you have a screening program that tests people once a year, it might have a dangerous effect,” she said.

Meanwhile, the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening, a randomized trial studying 300,000 women using the same two-stage procedure, is slated for completion in 2015.


Add a Comment

Avatar of: You



Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Popular Now

  1. Rethinking the Rise of Mammals
    Daily News Rethinking the Rise of Mammals

    Mammals diversified 30 million years later than previously estimated, according to a new analysis of an ancient fossil.

  2. Wiping Out Gut Bugs Stops Obesity
  3. Birth of the Skin Microbiome
    Daily News Birth of the Skin Microbiome

    The immune system tolerates the colonization of commensal bacteria on the skin with the aid of regulatory T cells during the first few weeks of life, a mouse study shows.

  4. Battling the Bulge
    Bio Business Battling the Bulge

    Weight-loss drugs that target newly characterized obesity-related receptors and pathways could finally offer truly effective fat control.

Life Technologies