Med. school scientists develop blood test for early-stage ovarian cancer

Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine have developed a blood test that detects early-stage ovarian cancer with 99.4 percent accuracy, which researchers say will temper the high death races associated with the disease. The blood test is a marked improvement over a diagnostic technique developed by the same group in 2005 that detected ovarian cancer with a 95 percent efficiency.

Despite its lower incidence than breast cancer, ovarian cancer is actually three times more lethal than breast cancer and the leading cause of gynecologic cancer deaths nationwide, according to the National Cancer Institute. Doctors have called it the “silent killer” because it is usually very difficult to detect until its advanced stages. Despite its high lethality, funding and research attention devoted to the disease remain lower than breast cancer.

“The ability to recognize almost 100 percent of new tumors will have a major impact on the high death rates of this cancer,” associate professor of reproductive sciences at the medical school and lead researcher of the study Gil Mor said in a press release. “We hope this test will become the standard of care for women having routine examinations.”

The new technique relies on the use of six specific protein biomarkers in place of the old method’s four. To develop the test, the team identified proteins present in the blood of ovarian cancer patients and quantified their concentrations.

Mor and his colleagues are currently testing their clinical platform on close to 2,000 patients as part of their Phase III evaluation.

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