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

robably not related to ovarian cancer, but to another disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

For the current study, Andersen and her colleagues used the symptom-screening index and a blood test that looks for CA 125, a protein that is often elevated in ovarian cancer. However, CA 125 can sometimes be elevated in women who don't have ovarian cancer, the researchers noted.

The study involved 254 healthy women at high-risk for ovarian cancer because of family history, as well as 75 women about to undergo surgery to remove an ovarian cancer. The women were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their symptoms. All of the women also gave a blood sample to have their levels of CA 125 measured.

The two methods together correctly identified almost 90 percent of the ovarian cancers -- 80.6 percent of the early cancers and 95.1 percent of the later-stage cancers.

About 14 percent of women who had symptoms and had elevated levels of CA 125 did not have ovarian cancer, according to Andersen. These women received transvaginal ultrasound tests for follow-up, according to Andersen.

"This study continues to add on to the work that's been done, but we still have a long way to go with ovarian cancer," commented Debbie Saslow, director of breast and gynecologic cancer for the American Cancer Society.

None of the current screening tools is as accurate as the ACS and other experts would like them to be, she explained. Any of the tests alone misses a significant number of cancers, and unnecessarily worries women who don't have cancer. Saslow said transvaginal ultrasound can be a good test, but it has to be done by an experienced sonographer, and there are no current guidelines to define how much experience is enough.

Additionally, Saslow said that no research has been done to prove that early detection saves lives.

Andersen said the researchers recommend that if you have any of the sym
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