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Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer Moves Closer
Date:5/20/2010

Step-wise strategy based on blood test was nearly 100% accurate in older women, study found

THURSDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- A step-wise approach accurately spots early stage ovarian cancer in older women at average risk for the disease, new research suggests.

This cancer is known as a silent killer because it is often diagnosed too late to be successfully treated. Scientists have long sought a reliable method of early detection.

The "Risk of Ovarian Cancer Algorithm" (ROCA), which uses a mathematical model, is geared specifically to postmenopausal women at average risk for the disease.

The findings will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), being held next month in Chicago, but were released to reporters at a special news briefing Thursday.

"This ROCA algorithm represents yet another example of personalized medicine. This is personalized towards a screening strategy for a vicious cancer," explained Dr. Douglas W. Blayney, ASCO president, professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and medical director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Michigan.

However, experts are awaiting the results of a much larger trial, due out in 2015, before recommending this as routine procedure.

"This is not practice-changing at this time," said study lead author Dr. Karen Lu, professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

"Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecologic cancer and the fourth leading cause of death in cancer in women," Lu said. "Over 75 percent of cases present with advanced-stage disease, when the cure rate is less than 30 percent. There is no effective screening method at the current time."

Measuring levels of a blood protein called CA-125 can help detect ovarian cancer, but the marker is far less than perfect.


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