Saturday, July 24, 2004


US scientists have found a test that appears to be 100% effective at detecting early ovarian cancer.

The test measures patterns of protein markers in a sample of a woman's blood.

National Cancer Institute researchers say the high-resolution mass spectrometry test allows cells that would lead to cancer to be identified.

Writing in the journal Endocrine-Related Cancer, they say it could be used routinely to diagnose early ovarian cancer in a few years time.

This form of cancer is hard to spot and as a result it is often advanced by the time diagnosis is made. If it is caught early, the chances of cure are higher.

Dr Tim Veenstra and colleagues at the Biomedical Proteomics Program in Frederick believe they have found a highly effective way for detecting early ovarian tumours.

High-resolution mass spectrometry measures slight differences in the weights between normal and cancerous proteins.

This shows which cells are likely to become cancerous.

When they tested blood samples from women with and without ovarian cancer the system was 100% accurate, detecting all of the cancers and giving no false positive results in the women without cancer.

It also correctly classified all of the very early cancers.

Dr Lesley Walker, director of information at Cancer Research UK, said the potential for screening using this method was huge, but he said it was still early days.

"This preliminary work is promising but a lot more needs to be validated.

"It will be important to see whether this method can distinguish between early ovarian cancer and other conditions.

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