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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora