Ovarian Cancer Breakthrough Raises Hopes

New use for old test: early diagnosis of deadly disease
By M. Morris,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2010 2:55 PM CDT
A blood test at a California lab.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(Newser) – Combining an existing blood test for ovarian cancer with a new screening protocol may lead to a reliable way to diagnose the deadly disease in its early stages, a new study says. "This is an important step forward," the lead researcher tells the Houston Chronicle. " This may be pointing the way toward developing a 'mammogram' if you will for ovary cancer, " another oncologist says in an interview with Reuters.

The test, which checks levels of the CA-125 protein, is used to see whether ovarian cancer has recurred, but a high incidence of false positives makes it unreliable for early detection. Researchers split 3,000-plus subjects into groups according to their risk of developing the disease and monitored changes in their CA-125 levels, diagnosing three with early-stage ovarian cancer. " What's looking promising is the trend over time,"says the researcher. "You could have a very low value and all of a sudden it goes very high. That is a trigger ."

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