Researchers have developed what they believe is the first blood test that accurately detects ovarian cancer at an early stage.
"The ability to recognize almost 100 percent of new tumors will have a major impact on the high death rates of this cancer," senior author Dr. Gil Mor, from Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, said in a statement. "We hope this test will become the standard of care for women having routine examinations."
In 2005, Mor's team first described a panel of biomarkers that can detect stage I and II ovarian cancer.
In the present trial, reported in the medical journal Clinical Cancer Research, the researchers expanded the panel from four proteins to six, and used a sophisticated assay system to measure protein levels in 362 healthy women and 156 patients newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Alone, none of the biomarkers could distinguish the cancer patients from the healthy comparison group, the researchers report. When all six biomarkers were measured, however, the test identified 95 percent of the cancer patients.
A larger evaluation of the biomarker assay is currently underway.