Work advances on early-detection ovarian cancer blood Dx

Scientists at the Garvan Institute in Sydney, Australia, are hard at work developing a blood test for early detection of ovarian cancer. It would target specific DNA changes that are indicative of the disease.

The Herald Sun reports on the ongoing work. Lead researcher Goli Samimi tells the newspaper that such a blood test would facilitate early detection of ovarian cancer by screening for key DNA changes in blood samples. Samimi and colleagues already proved the feasibility of this in previous research, according to the article, by identifying specific DNA changes in women who already have the deadly disease.

So, logic dictates that a blood test could be developed to look for those specific biomarkers. There is a need for a better diagnostic, the story notes, because symptoms are vague, ranging from fatigue to bloating and changes in appetite. And accurate diagnosis often comes only after the cancer has already metastasized, leading to a 20% survival rate.

Early detection could boost that survival rate substantially, Samimi told the newspaper, because those patients could have a full hysterectomy to reduce their risk, before the ovarian cancer has spread. Samimi said the test could boost survival rates to 90%. Such a test could help advance the use of personalized medicine in cancer diagnosis and treatment, targeted to patients with a family history of the disease. More research is needed, of course, and key questions remain, such as whether an ovarian cancer blood test will be inexpensive, and also sensitive, enough to improve diagnosis rates beyond current standards of care.

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