A New Way to Screen for Ovarian Cancer
- Created: September 24, 2013
- by: admin
New studies are being conducted to screen for ovarian cancer early to increase survival rates.
Some cancers don’t show symptoms until later stages when treatment is least effective. Ovarian cancer is one of them. According to LA Times, nearly 70% of ovarian cancers are caught in advanced stages where the survival rate is less than 30%. Thankfully, early detection can raise a patient’s chance of survival between 75%-90%.
Cancer antigen 125 (CA125), found in women’s blood, is a well-known marker indicative of the presence of ovarian cancer. Researchers at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center have looked not at absolute levels of CA125, but at changes of the CA125, which were checked once a year.
Women who had changes that were above a certain threshold were considered in the “high-risk” group and had to have their levels checked every three months. The “high-risk” group were also recommended to have a transvaginal ultrasound. At this point, radiologist and gynecologic oncologist would determine the need for surgery. This ultrasound helps to narrow in the population so that only a few women need to undergo surgery.
Tests to detect ovarian cancer are costly, invasive, and potentially dangerous to the patient. Looking at changes in the CA125 in women who are at a high risk for the cancer can help to spare women the cost and the unnecessary risk of surgery.
More research still needs to be conducted to prove the changes in the CA125 biomarker is an effective method to detect ovarian cancer at its early stages. Furthermore, large case studies are in progress to determine if early detection will save women’s lives without the cost of surgery. Other markers besides CA125 are also being examined to determine if they serve as a better indicator for ovarian cancer.
Written by Katherine Chua