A simple blood test, in combination with an ultrasound, may help doctors detect ovarian cancer while it can still be treated, a recent study from Oncology Center M.D. Anderson in Houston, United States.
Ovarian cancer is a silent killer. It attacks with few or no symptoms. By the time a woman knows that she suffers from cancer, she is often at an advanced stage and her prospects are negative.
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The new study "is a ray of emotion," said the researcher, the Dr. Karen Lu, professor of gynecologic oncology at the Oncology Center M.D. Anderson, in Houston. "The important message is that this should not change clinical practice right now, we do not have enough data."
Unlike breast cancer, cervical cancer or colon cancer, there is no reliable screening test to detect the disease. Many methods have been tried to detect ovarian cancer, but none has been accurate enough to use in the general population.
Most produce numerous false positive results, which force doctors to perform invasive surgeries to rule out cancer.
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In the study, which lasted eleven years and included more than 4,000 women, most of whom were white, a two-step method seemed to have almost 100% accuracy to rule out those false alarms in postmenopausal women.
The new detection method combines two existing tools: a blood test that measures a protein released by tumor cells, known as CA-125, and an ultrasound that allows doctors to observe the ovaries.
The two tests have been used together previously, with disappointing results, but the current research is different, since it takes into account fluctuations in the results of women's blood tests. The important thing is not a single measurement of CA-125 in the blood, but how it changes over time, the researchers explained.
The researchers entered the age and results of the women's tests into a mathematical formula known as the ovarian cancer risk algorithm, or ROCA (by its acronym in English), through which, according to the results, This cancer can be detected in a timely manner.