Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest cancers in the United States today.
It is extremely difficult to detect. The warning signs for ovarian cancer do not show up until the third stage of the cancer.
CBS news reports on a new lifesaver. There is a new blood test that just might help save lives. It helps to detect ovarian cancer before the warning signs surface.
Experts at the University College London say their research shows that the test can truly save a woman’s life. Their data shows that annual screening via the blood test can help decrease a woman’s chance of dying from ovarian cancer by 20 percent.
“The study, published in The Lancet, tracked the health of more than 200,000 post-menopausal women, aged 50 to 74, over a 14-year period. During that time, 1,282 of them were diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and 649 died of the disease,” according to CBS news.
The researchers divided the study participants into three groups: some received annual blood tests followed by an ultrasound if results were abnormal, some were screened with annual transvaginal ultrasound exams alone, and a control group received no screening at all.
When preexisting cases were excluded, women who underwent screening with the blood tests showed significantly lower mortality rates from ovarian cancer as the years went on. In years 7 to 14 of the study, their risk of death from the disease was cut by 20 percent. The researchers plan to follow up for three more years to evaluate the long-term impact of the screening.
Dr. David Agus, director of USC Norris Westside Cancer Center, commented on the study on CBS This Morning. He said, “This is the first study ever to show that early detection saves lives, so it's a pretty important finding.”
Dr. Agus also shed light on the fact that the researchers tried something different with the blood test than was done in past studies. He said that rather than just looking for an absolute number in the test results, they used an algorithm to spot changes over time and take other risk factors into consideration to come up with an answer.
Ovarian cancer is extremely difficult to survive.
Experts say that by the time the symptoms surface, it becomes a big cancer. Statistics show that only 45% of women who are diagnosed with it are still alive five years after the diagnosis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that around 20,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, and around 14,400 do not survive.
Dr. Agus said, “If this [screening] were implemented in the United States we would save about 3,500 lives per year. Hopefully this will actually mark what we in the cancer world believe in, which really is prevention and early detection. Because that's going to make the impact.”