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Ultrasound Beats Blood Test for Gauging Ovarian Cancers: Study
Date:11/15/2007

Imaging was right 93% of time at determining if tumors were malignant or not

THURSDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Ultrasound exams are better than blood tests at identifying whether ovarian tumors are benign or malignant, a team of international researchers reports.

Ultrasound correctly identified 93 percent of tumors as benign or cancerous, while the blood test was correct 83 percent of the time.

Results of the study, by the International Ovarian Tumor Analysis collaboration group (IOTA), were published online Nov. 13 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"To my knowledge, the IOTA study is the first study that clearly demonstrated that in experienced hands, ultrasound is significantly better than blood tests,'" said study leader Dr. Dirk Timmerman, a researcher at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium.

An estimated 22,430 new cases of ovarian cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2007 in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society, with about 15,280 deaths. The disease typically strikes women over age 55. Symptoms include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, or urinary symptoms such as a frequent need to urinate.

Because the symptoms are often similar to less serious conditions, only about 20 percent of ovarian cancers are found at an early stage, the cancer society estimates. This makes the quest for the best techniques to detect the cancer early even more important.

For the IOTA study, Timmerman and his colleagues compared ultrasound with blood tests to decide if the ovarian masses discovered in 1,066 women were benign or malignant.

Experts examined patterns in ultrasound images, and then compared those results with blood tests that detect an elevated level of the protein CA-125, considered an indicator of whether an ovarian tumor is cancerous or benign.

The ultrasound exams, inclu
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