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New Test for Early-Stage Ovarian Cancer

Study Shows That New Way of Evaluating a Protein Blood Test Could Detect Ovarian Cancer

CA125 Plus Ultrasound

The ongoing U.K. study includes 202,638 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 74 at recruitment between 2001 and 2005 who were randomly assigned to undergo no screening, annual screening with ultrasound alone, or annual screening with ultrasound and the CA125 blood test for 10 years.

Early results from the trial show that CA125 plus ultrasound detected 90% of the ovarian cancers identified so far in the combined screening group, while ultrasound alone identified 75% of cancers reported in this screening group.

Almost half of the cancers detected in both screening groups were early-stage cancers. The total number of cancers detected in the two screening groups was similar.

But the combined-screening group had fewer repeat tests and almost nine times fewer surgeries performed to confirm disease for every ovarian cancer detected.

Thirty-five surgeries were performed to detect one cancer in the ultrasound alone group compared to three surgeries for every cancer detected in the combined screening group.

The study is published in the April issue of The Lancet Oncology.

American Cancer Society Director of Cancer Screening Robert A. Smith, PhD, says final results from the U.K. trial, along with as yet unpublished results from a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute, should reveal more about whether CA125 and ultrasound will prove useful for routine screening.

"For two decades we have been exploring ways to effectively use CA125 and ultrasound to screen for ovarian cancer," he says. "If these studies conclude that these new methods of using these tools have a favorable benefit-to-harm ratio, routine screening for ovarian cancer may become a reality for postmenopausal women."

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