Home / News / India /  Now, a simple blood test to detect ovarian cancer: Here's what new research says

A new study led by the Wilmot Cancer Institute, published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, has revealed that a new type of technology can collect stray ovarian cancer cells from a simple blood test and successfully forecast cancer in persons who have a lesion or cyst in the pelvic region.

This development is crucial as currently, there are no routine ovarian cancer screening methods available for people who do not have symptoms or a known lesion. The new technology, called a "liquid biopsy," developed by United Kingdom-based ANGLE PLC, and the URMC team at Wilmot, advances the field in a couple of important ways. Notably, close to 200 people participated in the study, which was led by Richard Moore, M.D., director of the Wilmot Cancer Institute's Gynecologic Oncology program at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is most commonly found in people of middle-age or older and as per the Wilmot study, the mean age of participants was 56. It is important to note that ovarian cancer symptoms can be vague, and can include common symptoms such as gas and bloating. However, there are some that should not be ignored, Moore said, pelvic pain or pressure, feeling full quickly after eating, vaginal discharge or abnormal bleeding, urgency to urinate frequently, fatigue, upset stomach, pain during sex, constipation, or menstrual changes. As ovarian cancer is most often diagnosed in later stages, it's important to act swiftly if symptoms persist or a growth is detected.

How the new technology will impact patients:

The study confirmed for physicians quickly and accurately that cancer was present in patients who were scheduled for surgery or other procedures. And with this, the detection enabled physicians to classify which patients needed immediate care from a specially trained gynecological oncologist to improve survival.

The study analyzed gene expression from captured cells in blood and evaluated 72 different gene transcripts and seven blood biomarkers related to ovarian cancer (including CA125). From this collection, the study identified nine gene transcripts and four biomarkers that were useful for detecting cancers. They were used to develop an algorithm known as MAGIC (Malignancy Assessment using Gene Identification in Captured Cells). The algorithm achieved a sensitivity of 95% and an accuracy of 83% for detecting ovarian cancer.

In the clinical trial, MAGIC also was able to detect ovarian cancer in early and late stages. Early-stage detection is critical for survival and difficult to achieve. And, the test picked up other types of cancer that had spread to the pelvic region or originated there. "This is an important step forward for the detection of ovarian cancer in patients with a pelvic mass," Moore said. "The fact that we can capture circulating tumor cells and analyze them from a simple blood draw is extremely exciting."

Being able to find circulating tumor cells is the key, Moore said. These are rare, living cells that break off from the original tumor. They have an estimated ratio in the blood of one in 100 million to one in one billion. The technology captures the rare cells and allows for genetic analysis in a single tool within a couple of hours. Currently, if a person has a suspicious lesion, surgery is necessary to diagnose ovarian cancer.

(With inputs from ANI)

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