A new way two-step way of screening for ovarian cancer may help doctors catch it whilst it’s still treatable, according to new research.
There currently are no established screening strategies for ovarian cancer, and the disease often causes no specific symptoms.
Tumours in the ovaries are hard to detect in the early stages when it is most responsive to treatment.
A trial of 4,051 women, reported in the journal Cancer, showed the method could identify those needing treatment.
There is a survival rate of up to 90% when ovarian cancer is caught early, compared with less than 30% if it is discovered in the later stages.
Karen Lu, MD, of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, explains: “The results from our study are not practice-changing at this time; 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.
“We are currently waiting for the results of a larger, randomized study currently being conducted in the United Kingdom that uses the same Risk of Ovarian Cancer Algorithm in a similar population of women. If the results of this study are also positive, then this will result in a change in practice.”
Preliminary results from the trial in the UK, released in 2009, were positive, the full results will be released in 2015.
The new screening method combines two existing tools, a blood test that measures a protein shed by tumour cells called CA-125 and an ultrasound exam to give doctors a look at the ovaries.