Blood tests 'can find ovarian cancer early'
New research has shown that screening women at high risk of ovarian cancer every four months by blood tests may reduce the likelihood of them being diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer.
The multi-institute United Kingdom Familial Ovarian Cancer Screening Study is a long-term study looking at whether a screening programme would benefit women at high risk of ovarian cancer, which may be due to a family history of ovarian or breast cancer.
According to the results, four-monthly screening with the Risk of Ovarian Cancer Algorithm may be an option for these women until they decide to undergo surgery.
For women at high risk, the advice is to have their ovaries and fallopian tubes removed after completing their families, but many women don’t want to have the surgery.
The algorithm is used to look for higher levels of the blood protein CA125, which tend to be elevated in ovarian cancer.
Annwen Jones, chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said: “An effective screening programme for women at high risk of ovarian cancer due to family history would potentially have a major impact on mortality and survival from this disease.”
She went on to say, however, that although this screening may reduce the risk of a diagnosis of advanced disease, it remains uncertain whether finding ovarian cancer by screening actually increases the chance of a woman surviving the disease.
Ms Jones said: “Women at a higher risk of ovarian cancer still need to weigh up the risks and benefits of surveillance versus preventative surgery.”