Brinkmann Gynaecology

New test 'helps identify new ovarian cancer treatment'

A new test can help doctors identify ovarian cancer more accurately and cut down on instances or unnecessary surgery, claim scientists.

It is designed to help diagnose different types and stages of ovarian cancer.

The developers, in Belgium and the UK, said many women with cancer were not getting the right treatment.

The charity Ovarian Cancer Action welcomed the test, saying early identification was "much needed".

The test is designed to distinguish accurately between benign cysts and malignant tumours as well as identify how aggressive tumours are.

It was developed by University of Leuven and Imperial College London scientists to help the patient get the right surgical treatment.


"It is very important to get the pre-operative diagnosis right," said Prof Tom Bourne of Imperial College London.  "If it isn't right, the patient might have a more extensive operation than they need, for example having an ovary removed unnecessarily."

Prof Bourne told the BBC that ovary removal could b a "critical issue for young women in terms of fertility".

The test uses a combination of patient information, blood test results and ultrasound scans to predict the malignancy, type and stage of the cancer and is better than the current practice in the UK according to Prof Bourne.

Survival rate

Ovarian cancer can be difficult to diagnose early because symptoms such as bloating and abdominal pain can be contributed to other common illnesses.

It is the most aggressive gynaecological cancer, with only about 40% of patients still alive five years after being diagnosed.

One of the main factors in survival rate is whether the surgery is carried out by a specialist surgeon, the researchers said.

Many women were currently operated on by general surgeons, possibly because of the true nature of the illness came to light only during surgery.

'Tailored treatment'

"Anything that makes a diagnosis of ovarian cancer easier, earlier and quicker and enables women to get tailored treatment sooner is very much needed", says the chief executive of Ovarian Cancer Action.

If women were diagnosed in the early stages of ovarian cancer they have a 90% chance of surviving the next five years.  But if the cancer is found at a later stage, the five-year survival rate is reduced to 22%.

"Awareness of this disease amongst women and GPs is key", she added.  Ovarian cancer is the UK's most deadly gynaecological disease, with over 7,000 cases diagnosed every year."

Extracted from BBC News Health on 16th October 2014