An article published August 26, 2013 in the online journal Cancer reports success with a new method for ovarian cancer screening. This is exciting news for all women! I have lost friends to this disease, and I’m guessing that you have, too. The results of the study offer hope to women everywhere for early diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer.
Current Screening Methods
Ovarian cancer is most common in women 50 and older. It is rare and affects about 1 in 2,500 post-menopausal women.
The disease is difficult for doctors to detect. There are no tried-and-true screening tests – as there are for other cancers – to catch ovarian cancer early.
Doctors now use several tests to screen for problems in the ovaries. A woman’s annual pelvic exam is usually enough. But if a doctor suspects a problem, he may order additional tests. They are:
- CT scan
- Blood tests
- Biopsy (of a tumor)
According to the American Cancer Society, 18% of women with Stage IV ovarian cancer (the most advanced), have a 5-year survival rate.
Women whose cancer is found earlier have better survival rates. Their 5-year rate increases to 75% and higher.
The ACS explains that these are overall statistics; they don’t look at individual cases. Each woman’s experience is unique, and some have better results.
Hope for earlier diagnosis and treatment
The 11-year study looked at 4,000 post-menopausal women, ages 50 to 74, with no previous family history of ovarian cancer. They were screened for about 4 years.
Researchers used a two-part method to screen for cancer:
1. Blood tests that identify a protein given off by cancer cells.
2. When blood tests showed a high-risk for cancer, ultrasound tests were done.
Of the original 4,000 women studied, some had surgery to remove tumors. Only 4 of the 4,000 women were found to have early stage cancer.
Great news! All of the women treated are alive today — and disease-free!
The study’s results give us all hope – for ourselves, our friends, and our loved ones. As research continues in ovarian-cancer screening, let’s continue to be optimistic about its future.