Ovarian cancer is not common, but it is the fifth deadliest cancer for women in the United States. A new study suggests that a simple test could lead to more personalized treatment of the disease, which might improve survival rates.
Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage, when the disease has spread and is more difficult to treat. The new study, published in the journal Cancer, found that a test that measures the amount of a certain protein in the blood can help predict how aggressive a woman’s ovarian cancer is.
The test measures the level of HE4, a protein that is produced by some ovarian cancer cells. The higher the level of HE4, the more aggressive the cancer is likely to be.
The study found that women with high levels of HE4 were more likely to have a recurrence of ovarian cancer and a shorter overall survival.
“This study demonstrates the potential for using HE4 as a biomarker to guide treatment decisions for women with ovarian cancer,” said senior author Dr. Jonathan Lawrenson, of The Institute of Cancer Research, London.
Lawrenson and his colleagues analyzed data from more than 1,700 women with ovarian cancer, who were diagnosed between 2000 and 2005. The women were followed for an average of six years.
The researchers found that the women with the highest levels of HE4 were more than twice as likely to die from their disease as the women with the lowest levels.
“Our study provides the first evidence that HE4 could be used to identify women with ovarian cancer who are at high risk of their disease returning and who may benefit from more intensive treatment,” Lawrenson said.
The study did not examine whether HE4 testing can help guide treatment decisions, but the authors say the results suggest that it could.
“If larger studies confirm our findings, HE4 testing could be used to select women for more intensive treatment, such as earlier surgery or more frequent monitoring,” Lawrenson said. “This could help to improve survival for women with this deadly disease.”
Ovarian cancer is the tenth most common cancer in women, with around 22,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States alone. However, the majority of these cases are diagnosed at a late stage, when the cancer has already spread beyond the ovary and is much more difficult to treat.
A new study published in the journal Nature Medicine has found that a simple blood test could help to improve the detection of ovarian cancer, particularly in its early stages. The test works by measuring the levels of two specific proteins that are found at high levels in the blood of women with ovarian cancer.
The study found that the test was able to correctly identify around 80% of early-stage ovarian cancers and around 90% of late-stage ovarian cancers. Importantly, the test was able to correctly identify around 95% of early-stage ovarian cancers that had not yet spread beyond the ovary.
This is a potentially game-changing development in the treatment of ovarian cancer. If the test can be used to detect the disease at an early stage, when it is most treatable, it could save the lives of thousands of women each year.
The test is not yet available commercially, but the researchers hope that it will be available within the next few years. In the meantime, they are continuing to refine the test and hope to increase its accuracy even further.