A blood screening test could help detect ovarian cancer sooner, and that, according to new research published in The Lancet, could help lower its death rate by as much as 20 percent.
Ovarian cancer now tends to be diagnosed at an advanced stage, with 60 percent of patients dying within five years.
In this study at University College in London, more than 200,000 women were recruited for the large trial and separated into three groups: 101,299 were not screened, 50,623 had an annual ultrasound scan, and 50,624 underwent annual screening involving a blood test and an ultrasound scan.
The annual screening ended in December 2011 and follow-up was carried out until the end of December, 2014. Ovarian cancers were diagnosed in 630 of the women who had no screening, in 314 of those screened by ultrasound only, and in 338 of those undergoing both blood tests and ultrasound.
Compared with the group that had no screening, from years 0 to 14, mortality was reduced by 15 percent among those screened by ultrasound and blood tests, and by 11 percent for those screened by ultrasound only.
This represents a relative reduction of 8 percent in years 0-7 and 23 percent in years 7-14 in the group screened by blood test and ultrasound. Even more eye-opening, when women who were found to have undiagnosed ovarian cancer on joining the trial were excluded, the average mortality was reduced by 20 percent overall and 28 percent in years 7-14.
There is some negative impact to screening. Of the 10,000 women who underwent blood tests plus ultrasound screening, 14 had unnecessary surgeries, with a 3.1 percent rate of major complication.
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