News / Health

Ovarian Cancer Test Shows Promise in Screening Healthy Women

FILE - A researcher works near a blood test machine recently developed that is so sensitive it can spot a single cancer cell lurking among a billion healthy ones, Jan. 3, 2011.FILE - A researcher works near a blood test machine recently developed that is so sensitive it can spot a single cancer cell lurking among a billion healthy ones, Jan. 3, 2011.
x
FILE - A researcher works near a blood test machine recently developed that is so sensitive it can spot a single cancer cell lurking among a billion healthy ones, Jan. 3, 2011.
FILE - A researcher works near a blood test machine recently developed that is so sensitive it can spot a single cancer cell lurking among a billion healthy ones, Jan. 3, 2011.
Jessica Berman
Researchers are exploring a new strategy that would allow a blood test, long used to detect ovarian cancer in women suspected of having the disease, to function as a screening tool for the lethal illness in healthy women.

Ovarian cancer is responsible for nearly two percent of all cancers diagnosed globally each year, according to the World Cancer Research Fund International. The disease is highly lethal because it often causes no specific symptoms in its early stages, and by the time a woman goes to the doctor complaining of abdominal bloating and pain, it's often too late for effective treatment.

Karen Lu, chair of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said, “We know that over 75 percent of women with ovarian cancer present at late stages when our chances for a sustained cure can be quite low. And we know that if we catch it very early we know that our chances for cure, for long-term cure, can be as high as 90 percent.”

The chance to catch the cancer early could come from new thinking about a 20-year-old blood test. Doctors use the test, which checks for levels of a protein called CA-125, to confirm a diagnosis of ovarian cancer or to monitor the progress of women who are being treated.

Lu and her colleagues investigated the possibility of using CA-125 levels to screen older, post-menopausal women for the cancer.  

They were involved in an 11-year study of about 4,000 healthy women across the United States. The participants, ages 50 to 74 with no family history of breast or ovarian cancer, received a CA-125 blood test at the beginning of the study and were divided into three risk groups. The women were re-tested on a regular schedule for more than a decade.

Lu says those whose CA-125 scores were low and remained low came back annually to be re-tested. Women with an intermediate score on the biomarker test at any point were brought back three months later for a follow-up test. Women whose CA-125 levels were high on repeat testing were sent to a cancer specialist for an ultrasound exam. Eighty-five women were referred to an oncologist based on that exam. Surgery was recommended for 10 of the women, four of whom had early-stage invasive ovarian cancer. Among the remaining women, one had endometrial cancer, three had benign tumors and two had suspicious cellular changes.

The method or algorithm for placing women in the three risk groups, according to Lu, turned out to be almost 100 percent effective in detecting invasive ovarian cancer with the CA-125 test.

“When we see a rise, when we see a doubling from a low value of eight to 16, the algorithm in our case triggered the ultrasound which ultimately picked up the early stage cancer,” said Lu.

British researchers have completed a study of 200,000 healthy women to see whether their risk of death from ovarian cancer was reduced by yearly screenings.

Depending upon the results, Lu said the test also could be recommended for healthy women.

The results of the study by Karen Lu and colleagues are published in the journal Cancer.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid