Ovarian cancer is the seventh most common cancer in women worldwide, with about 240,000 cases each year. About two in every 100 women will develop ovarian cancer at some point in their life. A blood test every four months could help spot early ovarian cancer in women who are at high-risk to the disease, researchers say.
The study led by University College London stressed surgery is the safest option, but found a blood test for protein CA 125 spots nine in ten cases before the cancer spreads.
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The study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology tested 4,000 women at 42 centers across the UK, with more than a 10 per cent risk.
Researcher Dr Adam Rosenthal said: ‘The screening appears to be very effective at detecting ovarian cancer before it causes symptoms.
‘The proportion of women who had all their tumors removed was very high, which is important in terms of predicting a better outcome.’
In the trial on 4,348 women cancers were detected earlier, when they should be easier to treat. However, it is not yet clear if the regular blood test would save lives.
While screening does detect cancer, tumors are far less likely to develop in the first place if women have surgery.
Prof Usha Menon, one of the researchers and a professor of gynecological cancer from UCL, said: “What we’re trying to do is get women to have surgery.
The US Food and Drug Administration recently recommended “against using currently offered tests to screen for ovarian cancer”, including ones looking at CA125. One potential issue is having a blood test could put women off surgery.
“This is what everyone’s worried about,” says Prof Menon. However, she pointed out there was already an issue with women delaying surgery.
Athena Lamnisos, the chief executive of The Eve Appeal, which part-funded the trial, said: “This research gives women hope and confidence that there is an evidence-based approach to screening if they decide to delay risk-reducing surgery.”