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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid