Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have developed a blood test with enough sensitivity and specificity to detect early stage ovarian cancer with 99 percent accuracy.
Results of this new study are published Tuesday in journal Clinical Cancer Research. "The ability to recognize almost 100 percent of new tumors will have a major impact on the high death rates of this cancer," said lead researcher Gil Mor.
Ovarian cancer is usually not diagnosed until its advanced stages and has come to be known as the "silent killer."
"This (test) is the most sensitive and specific test currently available," said Mor. "Previous tests recognized 15 to 20 percent of new tumors. Proteins from the tumors were the only biomarkers used to test for ovarian cancer. That is okay when you have big masses of tumors, but it is not applicable in very early phases of the tumor. Testing the proteins produced by the body in response to the presence of the tumor as well as the proteins the tumors produce, helped us to create a unique picture that can detect early ovarian cancer."
In their clinical trial, the research team chose 150 ovarian cancer patients and 350 healthy controls. They used a platform called multiplex technology to simplify the blood test into one single reaction using very small amounts of serum from the blood.
The Early Detection Research Network (EDRN) of the U.S. National Cancer Institute independently evaluated the results of the test.
"We hope this test will become the standard of care for women having routine examinations," said Mor. Mor and colleagues have begun a phase III evaluation in a multi-center clinical trial, in which they are testing close to 2,000 patients.
Yale has licensed the test to three companies: Lab Corp in the United States, Teva in Israel and SurExam in China.
(Xinhua News Agency February 13, 2008)