Researchers have developed a new blood test that can measure the body's own immune response characteristic of inflammation and some malignancies, an advance that may lead to a new diagnostic tool for ovarian cancer.
According to the researchers, including those from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia, about 3,00,000 new cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed globally each year, with nearly 60 per cent of the women dying within five years of diagnosis.
The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, found that testing for a specific immune biomarker may allow clinicians to identify whether growths on the ovaries are cancerous or not, without the need for other costly, time consuming tests.
"Our new test is as accurate as the combined results of a standard blood test and ultrasound," said study co-author Magdalena Plebanski from RMIT.
"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 said.
In the study, the researchers used a marker for inflammation (IL-6) together with cancer markers to detect epithelial ovarian cancer in blood.
They validated the results across two separate human trial cohorts.
Using the new blood test, the scientists said, patients with benign cysts identified through imaging may be spared unnecessary surgeries.
"This study looked at women with advanced ovarian cancer, but we hope further research could explore the potential for adding this biomarker to routine diagnostic tests at earlier stages of the disease," Plebanski said.
"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," he added.