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Symptoms Plus Blood Test Boost Ovarian Cancer Detection
Date:6/23/2008

The combo uncovered 80% of early-stage tumors, researchers say,,

MONDAY, June 23 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. researchers boosted the level of early-stage ovarian cancer detection by 20 percent through use of a blood test to detect a tumor marker as well as a woman's report of new-onset symptoms.

Using either test alone only uncovered about 60 percent of early-stage ovarian cancers in a high-risk group of women, while the two techniques together found 80 percent of early-stage tumors, according to finding published Monday in the online version of the journal Cancer.

"They appear to act complementary, and appear to be able to identify women who would not be identified by a blood sample alone, and conversely would not be identified by symptoms alone," said the study's lead author, M. Robyn Andersen, an associate member of the Public Health Sciences Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

More than 21,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer annually, and more than 15,000 women die from the disease each year, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Currently, only about 20 percent of ovarian cancers are caught in their earliest, potentially curable stages, according to Andersen.

In 2006, Andersen's colleague, Dr. Barbara Goff, director of gynecologic oncology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, published the ovarian cancer symptom-screening index tool, in an effort to help women and doctors clarify which women might have a heightened risk of ovarian cancer.

Important symptoms include pelvic or abdominal pain, bloating, increased abdominal size, difficulty eating, or feeling full quickly. These symptoms must occur more than 12 times per month, and have just recently begun occurring (within the past year), to be considered positive on the symptom-screening tool. For example, if a woman has had abdominal pain for the past 10 years, it's p
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