A new screening test can discover twice as many ovarian cancer cases compared to conventional strategies, according to the findings of the largest trial of its kind.
The new test uses a statistical calculation to analyze changing levels of a protein dubbed CA125 in a women’s blood. The protein is closely linked to ovarian cancer.
This offers a more exact prediction of a patient individual risk of developing cancer, twice as efficient compared to the conventional screening method which is based on a fixed ‘cut-off’ point for CA125.
The new screening test discovered cancer in 86 per cent of subjects with invasive epithelial ovarian cancer while traditional methods detected just 41 per cent.
The trial extraordinary results were gathered by the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS), which is the world’s largest ovarian cancer screening test trial, led by University College London (UCL).
The report was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study evaluated 46,237 women over a 14-year span. The subjects continued to have annual screening after their first test.
Their blood was analyzed once a year for CA125 levels and then scientists used a computer algorithm to evaluate their risk of ovarian cancer. The researchers took into account factors like the the original levels of CA125, how that level changed and the woman’s age,
The emerging pattern was compared with already discovered cases of cancer and it estimated the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
University of New South Wales Vice-Chancellor Ian Jacobs, who co-developed the test, explained the CA125 analysis has been doubted as a reliable biological marker for ovarian cancer but the new results show that “this can be an accurate and sensitive screening tool when used in the context of a woman’s pattern of CA125 over time.”
Jacobs hopes that the new test will be able to detect ovarian cancer in early stages and could save many lives.
“There is currently no national screening agenda for ovarian cancer, as research to date has been unable to provide enough evidence that any one method would improve early detection of tumors. These results are therefore very encouraging. They show that use of an early detection strategy based on an individual’s CA125 profile significantly improved cancer detection compared to what we’ve seen in previous screening trials,” said Professor Usha Menon, the co-principal investigator and trial co-ordinator at UCL.
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