Test May Diagnose Early Stage Ovarian CancerSaturday, February 16, 2008 23:30
Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect in the early stages, when the possibility of a cure is high. Symptoms are vague, and in far too many cases, ovarian cancer isn’t diagnosed until it is too late, making it the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among women. However, a new blood test developed by Yale researchers may change all that, by allowing doctors to make an ovarian cancer diagnosis much earlier, when it is still clinically undetectable.Yale scientists built upon previous research in which they measured 4 biochemical markers for ovarian cancer, yielding a test that was 95% specific. By adding two new markers to the test panel, researchers were able to increase the specificity of the new test to 99.4%. Although at first the difference seems small, a test with 95% specificity would result in 5,000 false positive results and unnecessary diagnostic procedures for every 100,000 women tested. A test with a 99.4% specificity would only give a few hundred false positive results.
Yale’s 6 biomarker test, which measures leptin, prolactin, osteopontin, insulin-like growth factor II, macrophage inhibitory factor, and CA-125, has been licensed to Laboratory Corporation of America. Yale has also been using the test in their Discovery to Cure program, and has detected several early stage cancers in high risk women. Further research is being conducted using blood samples from a large National Cancer Institute screening trial, using blood from women who have gone on to develop ovarian cancer and those who have not. The researchers will be blind to the ovarian cancer status of the women the samples came from, and will use their test to see if they can reliably detect early stage evidence of cancer in the samples.
The results of previous studies using the 6 marker test have been validated by the National Cancer Institute, and the test stands as an exciting and promising step forward in ovarian cancer detection.
Reference: I Visintin, Z Feng, D Ward, A Alvero, Y Lai, J Tenthorey, A Leiser, R Flores-Saaib, H Yu, T Rutherford, P Schwartz and G Mor. Diagnostic Markers for Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer. Clinical Cancer Research. 2008:14, 1065-1072.