Ovarian cancer test has 90% accuracy, trial shows

The test detects changing levels of protein CA125 and proved more accurate than the conventional blood test, according to a large trial

A new ovarian cancer screening method which detects changing levels of a protein in women’s blood has almost 90% accuracy, according to a large study.

The latest results from a 14-year study of 46,237 screenings, show that the new method, which calculates changing levels of the protein CA125, detected cancer in 86% of women with invasive epithelial ovarian cancer.

Increases in the level of CA125 in the blood can be a sign of ovarian cancer, but the conventional blood test, which uses a fixed cut-off point to determine the risk of cancer, identified fewer than half of these women.

The results, which are published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, come from the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening – the world’s largest ovarian cancer screening trial which is led by University College London (UCL). 

UCL trial co-ordinator Usha Menon said: ‘There is currently no national screening programme for ovarian cancer, as research to date has been unable to provide enough evidence that any one method would improve early detection of tumours. 

'These results are therefore very encouraging. They show that use of an early detection strategy based on an individual's CA125 profile significantly improved cancer detection compared to what we have seen in previous screening trials.'

Further results from the trial will be published later this year to demonstrate whether the test detects cancer early enough to save lives. 

Commenting on the study, Ovarian Cancer Action acting chief executive Katherine Taylor said: 'Early diagnosis in ovarian cancer is crucial. When women are diagnosed in the early stages of ovarian cancer they have a 90% chance of surviving for more than five years, but this reduces to 22% when diagnosed in the later stages. That is why this new research into CA125 is very encouraging. Anything that makes a diagnosis of ovarian cancer easier, earlier and quicker is urgently needed and could save the lives of thousands of women.

'A woman dies from ovarian cancer in the UK every two hours. This is simply unacceptable.'

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