FEB 19, 2020 7:10 AM PST

Testing the Immune Response to Ovarian Cancer Treatment

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

There is a new diagnostic test for the deadliest form of gynecological cancer – ovarian cancer. Better tests mean better diagnostics, and better diagnostics lead to catching cases of ovarian sooner, improving treatment options and prognoses.

The new diagnostic test was assessed in a recent clinical trial conducted in two cohorts of women with advanced ovarian cancer from two hospitals in Melbourne, Australia.

The new diagnostic test quantifies the body’s immune response to potential ovarian tumors by testing the blood for cancer markers as well as a specific immune biomarker for inflammation – interleukin (IL)-6. The presence of these biomarkers can help differentiate harmless ovarian cysts from malignant epithelial ovarian cancer. The most common form of ovarian cancer begins in the epithelial cells (GHR).

The new test is, according to senior author and chief investigator Magdalena Plebanski, “as accurate as the combined results of a standard blood test and ultrasound.” Utilizing the new diagnostic test eliminates need for MRI scans or ultrasounds. Improving the way women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer could reduce the number of needless operations, as women with harmless cysts would know they don’t need surgical removal.

 “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,” Plebanski added.

While the current study only included women with advanced ovarian cancer, future clinical trials testing the accuracy of this new test could include women with earlier stages of ovarian cancer.

About Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is one of the most common gynecologic cancers. Every year, 300,000 new cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed across the world. 60 percent of women die within five years of diagnosis.

Sources: RMIT University, Scientific Reports

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
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