FEB 19, 2020 8:01 AM PST

Forget complicated scans - ovarian cancer can be detected in the blood

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandes

Results from clinical trials performed in Melbourne, Australia have revealed the diagnostic potential of a new test for ovarian cancer. Instead of using conventional techniques like ultrasonography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or tissue biopsies, this recently established method identifies the presence of malignancy by measuring the levels of specific inflammatory biosignatures in the bloodstream.

Early detection has been linked to better patient outcomes. Unfortunately, however, ovarian cancer rarely shows any symptoms until the advanced stages. Consequently, the mortality rates of ovarian cancer are staggering, ranking fourth in all cancers that cause death in women. Over half of all women diagnosed with ovarian cancer die within five years. Genetics, age, and being overweight have been linked to an elevated risk of developing this cancer.

Chief investigator of the study, Professor Magdalena Plebanski from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) recently described this simple blood test for ovarian cancer in Scientific Reports.

The test measures levels of a pro-inflammatory immune marker, interleukin 6 (IL-6), along with other cancer biomarkers in blood samples taken from patients. Upon validation in patient cohorts, the technique designed by Plebanksi and colleagues was found to have the same diagnostic accuracy as current gold standards: MRI and ultrasound imaging.

"This is especially important for women in remote or disadvantaged communities, where under-resourced hospitals may not have access to complex and expensive equipment like ultrasound machines or MRI scanners. It also means patients with benign cysts identified through imaging could potentially be spared unnecessary surgeries,” said Plebanski.

Previous studies have shown that IL-6 levels are significantly raised in patients with advanced or metastatic cancer. In pancreatic cancer patients, for example, higher IL-6 in circulation correlated strongly with poorer survival outcomes.

Plebanski and her fellow researchers are hopeful that the progress made towards a new generation of cancer diagnostics will enable ovarian cancer sufferers to be diagnosed much earlier.

"Developing tests that are simpler and more practical may help get more women to hospital for treatment more effectively, with the hope that survival rates will improve."


Sources: Technology Networks, Scientific Reports.

About the Author
PhD
Interested in health technology and innovation.
You May Also Like
OCT 08, 2022
Coronavirus
Carriers of Certain APOE Variants are More Vulnerable to Severe COVID-19
OCT 08, 2022
Carriers of Certain APOE Variants are More Vulnerable to Severe COVID-19
Researchers have long known that certain things are risk factors for severe cases of COVID-19, such as old age or obesit ...
OCT 05, 2022
Health & Medicine
SARS-CoV-2 Infects Cells in the Brain & May Cause Structural Changes
OCT 05, 2022
SARS-CoV-2 Infects Cells in the Brain & May Cause Structural Changes
Researchers have now published a study that has revealed how SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can infect brai ...
OCT 12, 2022
Health & Medicine
Cavity-Causing Germs Can Form Superorganisms Able to Crawl on Teeth
OCT 12, 2022
Cavity-Causing Germs Can Form Superorganisms Able to Crawl on Teeth
Scientists have found that bacteria and fungi in the human mouth can join forces to form a superorganism that is stronge ...
OCT 25, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Certain Air Pollutants Linked to Worse Outcomes in Interstitial Lung Disease
OCT 25, 2022
Certain Air Pollutants Linked to Worse Outcomes in Interstitial Lung Disease
Fibrotic interstitial lung disease (fILD) is a frustratingly difficult disease to characterize. For one, fiLD is difficu ...
NOV 11, 2022
Cancer
Veterans and Burn Pit Exposure
NOV 11, 2022
Veterans and Burn Pit Exposure
Today we recognize the Veterans Day holiday in the United States.  Each year, on November 11, Americans commemorate ...
NOV 18, 2022
Neuroscience
Experiencing the Pain of Others
NOV 18, 2022
Experiencing the Pain of Others
Researchers noted an association between neural activity and the perceived intensity of pain that others feel, they publ ...
Loading Comments...