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New Test To Help Identify Ovarian Cancer More Accurately

  • October 22, 2014
  • A new test has been launched which can help doctors identify ovarian cancer more accurately and cut down on unnecessary surgery, according to scientists.  The test is designed to help diagnose different types and stages of ovarian cancer and the developers in Belgium and the UK said many women with cancer were not getting the right treatment.

    The test is designed to distinguish accurately between benign cysts and malignant tumours as well as identify how aggressive tumours are, and it was developed by University of Leuven and Imperial College London scientists to help the patient get the right surgical treatment.

    The test uses a combination of patient information, blood test results and ultrasound scans to predict the malignancy, type and stage of the cancer, and the researchers who came up with the test used data from 3,506 patients in 10 European countries between 1999 and 2007 to develop it.  Findings from the test were then reported in the British Medical Journal, and the test was trialled with a further 2,403 patients between 2009 and 2012.

    Inez Brown, Clinical Negligence Solicitor

    Inez Brown

    Inez Brown, Partner at the Medical Accident Group said: “If the pre-operative diagnosis for ovarian cancer isn’t right, the patient might have a more extensive operation than they need, for example, having an ovary removed unnecessarily, and this could be a critical issue for young women in terms of their fertility. Ovarian cancer can be more difficult to diagnose early because symptoms of bloating and abdominal pain can also be due to many other common illnesses, so it is vital that the diagnosis is a correct one to avoid unnecessary surgery.”

    Ovarian Cancer is the most aggressive gynaecological cancer, with only about 40% of patients surviving five years after being diagnosed, according to the research paper.  One of the main factors in survival is how early the cancer is diagnosed. There is currently no screening available in the UK, so patients have to rely on seeing a doctor and being correctly diagnosed in time.

    Another important factor in the survival rate for ovarian cancer is whether surgery is carried out by a specialist surgeon, the researchers said, therefore this new test and anything that makes a diagnosis of ovarian cancer easier, earlier and quicker and that gets women tailored treatment sooner is very much needed.  Awareness this form of cancer among women and GPs is key, and according to statistics from cancer charity Ovarian Cancer Action if women were diagnosed in the early stages of ovarian cancer they have a 90% chance of surviving the next five years, but if the cancer was found at a later stage, the five-year survival rate is reduced to 22%

    Ovarian cancer is the UK’s most deadly gynaecological disease, with over 7,000 cases diagnosed every year.

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