Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread to other parts of the body and becomes difficult to treat with surgery and chemotherapy. This is largely because there’s no national screening programme to diagnose the disease at its earliest stage when it is most curable. But, a new non-invasive method tested in the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS) can detect almost twice as many incidents of cancer as conventional strategies. The new technique takes measurements of a biomarker – a specific protein released by ovarian cancer cells (blue and pink cells shown) – from a series of blood samples and interprets its change over time to more accurately predict a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer. However, the more important question of whether the cancers detected were caught early enough to save lives will depend on the final analysis of the trial, due out later this year.
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