Ovarian Cancer Marker Offers Hope for Early Detection

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • An article on CNN, "Possible Marker for Ovarian Cancer Found," discusses a recent research study offering hope for more effective and new screening and treatment options for ovarian cancer.


    Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer and the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


    Currently, screening for ovarian cancer is difficult. A blood test, called CA 125, can be used but is more accurate in post-menopausal women and is more often used to determine to progression of cancer and tumor growth rather than for detecting if ovarian cancer is present. Another test, currently in clinical trials but not yet available to the public, shows promise in screening for ovarian cancer by testing for the amount of lysophospatidic acid in blood plasma. Additional clinical trials are needed to determine if this will be an accurate screening for early detection. Without accurate screening tests, a laparotomy (exploratory surgery) is often required for a definitive diagnosis.

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    The marker TEM1 discovered by the research team at the University of Pennsylvania that may help in early detection of ovarian cancer is a positive step. The gene, TEM1, has been found to be in blood vessels feeding tumors, in high numbers. According to the lead researcher, Chungseng Li, PhD, "We were looking for a way to identify those patients and looking into a therapy against this gene." ["Possible Marker for Ovarian Cancer Found", 2008, Andrea M. Kane, CNN]


    The researchers hope the discovery of the gene will help in developing future treatments as well as in early detection of ovarian cancer.


    In addition, the TEM1 gene can be found in tumors related to breast cancer, colon cancer and glioblastoma (brain cancer) adding to the possibilities of additional uses for screening for this gene.


    Ovarian cancer has some early warning signs:


    • Bloating or increased abdominal size
    • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
    • Pain in the pelvic area


    If you are experiencing these symptoms persistently, contact your gynecologist to decide if you should have additional screening or testing.


Published On: September 30, 2008