Blood & ultrasound can diagnose ovarian cancer early

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Blood test combined with ultrasound scan can diagnose ovarian cancer (gynecological cancer) early in postmenopausal women, almost 2 years earlier than normal, reported by the British researchers in the Lancet.

Ovarian cancer has a high case-fatality ratio, with most women not diagnosed until the disease is in its advanced stages. The screening strategies in the study could prove to be effective in detecting ovarian cancer early in curable stage.

The UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS) is the largest randomised controlled trial to date to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of screening for ovarian cancer.

The trial compares two methods of screening-with ultrasound alone, or with blood tests for CA125 followed by ultrasound if indicated-directly with one another.

Between 2001 and 2005, a total of 202 638 post-menopausal women aged 50-74 years were randomly assigned to no treatment; annual CA125 screening (interpreted using a risk of ovarian cancer algorithm) with transvaginal ultrasound scan as a second-line test (multimodal screening; or annual screening with transvaginal ultrasound alone in a 2:1:1 ratio using a computer-generated random number algorithm. All women provided a blood sample at recruitment.

The researchers concluded that the findings show promising results in both screening strategies and are feasible on a large scale. Analysis of the psychosocial impact and cost effectiveness of these strategies is currently underway. The results of ongoing screening are required before a conclusion can be drawn regarding the effect of screening on mortality.

The study was funded by the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK and the Department of Health, UK; with additional support from the Eve Appeal, Special Trustees of Bart’s and the London, and Special Trustees of University College London Hospital.

Source: Lancet, UK

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