Ovarian cancer test gives hope of earlier diagnosis
A blood test may detect ovarian cancer up to two years early, a new study has found.
Scientists have developed a simple screening method involving a biomarker made up of four proteins seen together.
The study, published in the journal 'Nature', involved the analysis of blood samples from 80 individuals across a seven-year period.
Dr Rachel Shaw, research information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "Around half of ovarian cancer cases are picked up at a late stage, when treatment is less likely to be successful. So developing simple tests like these that could help detect the disease sooner is essential.
"It's really exciting to see these encouraging results for this type of ovarian cancer."
The NHS states ovarian cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women - saying overall, around half of women with ovarian cancer will live for at least five years after diagnosis, and about one in three will live at least 10 years.
Dr Bobby Graham, the study's lead author, said: "Firstly, we discovered that the presence of the biomarker panel will enable us to detect epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC). We then developed a screening test to detect this biomarker panel, making this a relatively simple diagnostic test."
Dr Graham, from Queen's University Belfast, added: "The algorithm designed will flag any abnormal levels of the proteins associated with the cancer. The screening test identifies ovarian cancer up to two years before the current tests allow."
If diagnosed at stage one of EOC, there is a 90pc chance of five-year survival compared to 22pc if diagnosed at stage three or four. Dr Graham said they now want to test it in a wider sample set so they can use the data to advocate for a screening programme.