A large new study has revealed that an ovarian cancer test could be a lot more effective than previously thought. Experts claim these new results will have implications on the diagnosis of the condition within general practice.
Ovarian cancer is notoriously difficult to diagnose early. Here, we’ll look at what the study revealed, why it matters and what it means to patients.
What did the study involve?
The study was one of the largest of its kind, assessing data from 50,780 women. The women had attended a GP appointment in England for potential ovarian cancer symptoms between 2011 and 2014.
Each patient had undergone CA125 ovarian cancer testing, with 10% of them who did have high CA125 levels, shown to have been diagnosed with the condition. This figure is higher than previously thought, showing how effective the test can be. In 2011, NICE guidelines suggested that detection rates with the test would be approximately 1%.
The research was presented at the annual conference of the National Cancer Research Institute in Glasgow. GPs have welcomed the research, claiming it will now help them to improve their diagnostic rates in patients over the age of 50.
Ovarian cancer one of the most challenging to diagnose
Ovarian cancer is known to be one of the most challenging cancers to diagnose. It also has a low life expectancy rate due to frequently being diagnosed in the later stages. Smear tests have so far been one of the main tools used to detect the cancer, but it isn’t a diagnostic tool.
The cancer is known to be three times more likely to occur in women over 50. Around 17% of patients included in the trial over 50 who showed abnormal results, were diagnosed with other types of the disease such as womb, lung and pancreatic cancer.
What the results mean for patients
Now that GPs know how effective the CA125 test can be, it can be more widely used as a diagnostic tool. This could help to diagnose patients much earlier, improving the chances of survival.
The test itself is very easy to access for GPs and is minimally invasive. If abnormal results are detected, more invasive testing can be carried out. The test would prove especially beneficial for women over the age of 50.
Clinical guidelines can also be updated to reflect the recent findings. Due to how large the study was, it gave researchers to look at each patient in more detail, gathering a much better picture of how effective the test is at detecting ovarian cancer and other types of the disease.
Overall, this new research is an exciting and crucial development. It can be used to potentially diagnose ovarian cancer much earlier than it currently is. The life-changing effects this can have on a patient are substantial. Patients who are concerned they may have ovarian cancer should request the CA125 blood test. Although it cannot always diagnose the condition, it is ten times more effective than doctors previously thought.