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Progress in Blood Test to Detect Ovarian Cancer

Researchers Study Test That May Flag Early Stages of Ovarian Cancer

About Ovarian Cancer continued...

Women at high risk of ovarian cancer (such as those with a strong family history of the disease) may be screened with ultrasound and blood tests, says the ACS. Those methods aren't used for routine screening of women not at high risk.

Women at risk for ovarian cancer are those who have never been pregnant, have decreased fertility, and those who delayed childbearing but did not use oral contraception. Some studies have also linked the use of fertility drugs to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

"This test should improve our ability to accurately detect premalignant change or early stage ovarian cancer in asymptomatic women at increased risk for the development of ovarian cancer," write Mor and colleagues.

However, more work is needed before the test can be used by the general public, say the researchers. "There is significant need for further improvement of the [test] reported here if [it] is to be used for general population screening," they write.

About the Test

The test was tried on 106 healthy women and 100 with ovarian cancer. Each of the four proteins had been mentioned as possible markers, but this is the first test to screen for all four at once, say the researchers.

The test's results relied on all four proteins. "No single protein could completely distinguish the cancer group from the healthy [group]," says the study.

Could those four proteins also indicate other kinds of cancer? That "must be investigated rigorously," say the researchers, noting that some cancers already have well-established detection methods (such as mammography for breast cancer).

Progress Against Female Reproductive Cancers

News of the ovarian cancer blood test comes almost six months after another cancer of the female reproductive system was in the headlines.

Last November, researchers reported that they were making progress in developing a vaccine against two strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that account for most cervical cancer cases.

A large clinical trial of the vaccine is under way.

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