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Blood Test Could Increase Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer could be detected earlier and treated more effectively with the introduction of a blood test currently being researched by scientists at the Yale School of Medicine. Ovarian cancer kills three-quarters of the women who suffer from it, and accounts for 5 to 6 percent of all cancer deaths in women, reports The Times. According to Reuters Health, this cancer is often not diagnosed until its advanced stages, leading some to call it a ‘silent’ disease.

In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Yale team reported their success with a test to track four marker proteins – leptin, prolactin, osteopontin and insulin-like growth factor II. According to Reuters Health, the test identifies cancer sufferers by raised prolactin and osteopontin levels, along with lowered levels of leptin and insulin-like growth factor II. The Times reports that tests in 200 women resulted in a 95 percent accurate rate of cancer detection, but that the test must become over 99 percent accurate before it begins national testing. This heightened accuracy is required because even low levels of false positives will result in thousands of misdiagnosed women nationally. Until then, tests will continue in volunteers who are at high risk of ovarian cancer, reports NBC News.

Sources:

Guardian 5/10/05; NBC News 5/9/05; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (online) 5/12/05; The Times 5/10/05; Reuters Health 5/9/05