A new blood test to detect ovarian cancer is being developed by Australian scientists and could be available within five years.
The Australian reports the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, led by Dr Goli Samimi, have been able to identify DNA changes that occur in women with ovarian cancer. Researchers are now seeking to refine this data and develop a simple blood test that will enable ovarian cancer to be detected in its early stages. According to Dr. Samimi, if the development is successful, it will increase the survival rate from ovarian cancer from around 20 percent to up to 90 percent.
Tests for ovarian cancer currently involve a blood test that looks for the presence of CA-125, a protein possibly connected to ovarian cancer. Women who are at high risk of developing the cancer are also given a transvaginal ultrasound test. The Washington Post reports these existing tests are not very effective. The typical symptoms of ovarian cancer are vague, and with fatigue, bloating, and tiredness being issues most women face normally, pinpointing these concerns as actual symptoms of ovarian cancer is extremely difficult. Typically, by the time a woman has had the surgery to investigate if she has ovarian cancer, the cancer has advanced, The Australian explains.
In a survey published in The West Australian, many women in Australia do not know about ovarian cancer tests, with two thirds of women believing a pap smear, which is used to detect cervical cancer, also detects ovarian cancer.
Women who are at a high risk of ovarian cancer, such as those with a family history of the disease, are often encouraged to undergo a full hysterectomy before they turn 40. Dr. Samimi says a test that enables early detection would reduce the necessity for such radical surgery. Scientists are also hopeful that if the new ovarian cancer blood test is successful, similar tests could be developed from the research and used to detect other cancers.