A new blood test for ovarian cancer has been found to detect twice as many cases as conventional methods, and is so successful it could lead to national screening programmes.
A groundbreaking medical trial carried out over 14 years in the UK – the largest of its kind in the world for ovarian cancer screening – correctly diagnosed 86 percent of cases deadly and invasive epithelial ovarian cancer (iEOC).
Scientists said the “very encouraging” results showed the new test was able to offer effective screening for a disease that is traditionally very difficult to catch early. Its symptoms, including loss of appetite, abdominal pain and bloating, are common across a range of conditions.
And UCL’s Professor Usha Menon said that the new test, involving tracking changing levels of the protein CA125 in the blood, could change the way doctors screen for ovarian cancer in the UK.
“There is currently no national screening programme for ovarian cancer, as research to date has been unable to provide enough evidence that any one method would improve early detection of tumours,” Professor Menon said.
Cancer Research UK said the prospect of a blood test was “exciting”, but added that more work was needed to confirm whether the new method would save lives. Further results from the ultrasound arm of the trial, and the impact of screening on cancer death rates, are expected later this year.
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