Detecting Ovarian Cancer
Researchers have found a new method to diagnose ovarian cancer. It seems that a simple blood test was discovered by those at Vermillion, a medical diagnostics company which may determine whether ovarian tumors are benign or malignant. The test, OVA1, was approved in clinical trials since 2009, and the results are encouraging. Researchers turned their attention to the two target groups: group of women with early stage ovarian cancer and those that are premenopausal. Studies were performed on 494 patients and test sensitivity was 91% for women with early stage ovarian cancer and 94% for premenopausal women. Also, the percentage of false positives was very low (2%). Such a test would be very useful in clinical practice not only for suspected ovarian cancer patients but also for doctors. Needless to say, a blood test to settle the origin of benign or malignant ovarian tumor would be money and time-saving.
OVA1 test is recommended for women suspected of ovarian cancer before they undergo surgery or biopsy. This test analyses actually more specific markers of ovarian cancer : transthyretin (TT), apolipoprotein A-1 (ApoA-1), beta2-microglobulin (Beta2M), transferrin (TFR), and cancer antigen 125 (CA -125). In other words, the test highlights if the tumor is malignant or not. This would be a very easy way to diagnose an ovarian cancer. There are many ovarian tumors, some are malignant and some are benign. Needless to say that treatment differs for the two different categories of tumors. Benign tumors can be usually removed and they do not spread or invade other tissues, unlike malignant tumors. It is therefore extremely important to determine the origin of the tumor.
Ovarian tumors may have multiple origins. Most are derived from ovarian epithelium, but there are also tumors derived from germ cells (so-called teratomas) or tumors derived from ovarian stroma. There is an important class of benign tumors, which means that it is not cancer. The most common ovarian tumors is manifested by bloating, abdominal or pelvic pain, vaginal bleeding, urinary symptoms, etc.. So the symptoms are vague. On palpation one can observe an abdominal or pelvic mass. There are situations in which ovarian cancer remains long time asymptomatic or it is discovered incidentally.
In most cases, ovarian cancer is diagnosed using a clinical examination, blood tests (blood tests and tumor markers, CA 125), and imaging. Intravaginal ultrasound, along with CT, MRI can help diagnose ovarian cancer. But only the histopathological examination performed on a biopsy sample can tell if the tumor is benign or malignant .