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Blood Antibody May Signal Start of Ovarian Cancer
Date:8/17/2011

ore than 15,000 women die each year as a result of this disease, reports the American Cancer Society.

Most women who develop ovarian cancer aren't diagnosed until the disease is advanced. If it's found early, ovarian cancer has a five-year survival rate of 94 percent, according to the cancer society. Two tests that experts hoped would help change that -- a combination of transvaginal ultrasound and a blood test for CA-125, a marker associated with ovarian cancer -- haven't reduced a woman's risk of dying from ovarian cancer, according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Luborsky and her colleagues wanted to try to find a way to detect early cancer or a screening test for who's at high risk for ovarian cancer before the cancer develops. Testing for mesothelin wouldn't work, because it isn't found at high levels until the cancer is advanced.

So, instead of looking for mesothelin, the researchers looked at a group of 109 infertile women, 28 women with ovarian cancer, and 24 women with benign ovarian cysts or tumors to see if these groups had antibodies to mesothelin. They also compared the three groups of women to healthy women to see if mesothelin antibodies were present.

Significant levels of mesothelin antibodies were found in women with ovarian cancer and in women with unexplained infertility or women who were infertile due to premature ovarian failure or ovulation problems. Women who were infertile due to endometriosis didn't have significant levels of mesothelin antibodies, according to the study. Healthy women, and women with benign ovarian growths also didn't have significant levels of mesothelin antibodies, the investigators found.

"There's a lot more we have to learn, but our aim would be for a screening test that could improve detection," said Luborsky.

More information

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