Scientists have developed a blood test that may be able to detect ovarian cancer up to two years earlier than other methods.
'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,' said Dr Rachel Shaw, Research Information Manager at Cancer Research UK, which partly funded the study.
Scientists analysed blood samples from 80 individuals across a seven-year period to develop the test. Dr Bobby Graham from Queen's University Belfast, who led the study explained: 'Firstly, we discovered that the presence of the biomarker panel will enable us to detect epithelial ovarian cancer. We then developed a screening test to detect this biomarker panel, making this a relatively simple diagnostic test.'
'The screening test identifies ovarian cancer up to two years before the current tests allow,' Dr Graham added.
If epithelial ovarian cancer is diagnosed at stage one, there is a 90 percent chance of five-year survival compared with 22 percent if diagnosed at stage three or four.
Dr Graham noted that while the results of the study are encouraging, more work needs to be done. 'We now want to focus on testing it in a wider sample set so that we can use the data to advocate for an ovarian cancer screening programme.'
The study was published in the British Journal of Cancer.