Blood tests could detect ovarian cancer two years earlier, says study
"Developing simple tests like these that could help detect the disease sooner is essential."
A blood test could detect ovarian cancer two years earlier than regular testing, a new study has said.
Researchers in Belfast have developed a new screening system involving a biomarker made up of four proteins that could detect the illness up to 24 months earlier.
Ovarian cancer affects approximately 315 women in Ireland every year, making it the fifth most common cancer for women.
90 percent of patients live for at least five years if the cancer is found and treated before it has a chance to spread.
RTE News reports that the study, published the journal Nature, analysed blood samples from 80 participants over the course of seven years.
Lead author from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen's University Belfast, Dr Bobby Graham, said that the discovery was made by creating a simple diagnostic test to detect the biomarker.
"The algorithm designed will screen the blood sample and flag any abnormal levels of the proteins associated with the cancer," he said.
"The screening test identifies ovarian cancer up to two years before the current tests allow."
For women in the UK, ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cancer. In 2016, the illness led to 4,227 reported deaths.
"The results of this study are encouraging," said Dr Graham.
"However, we now want to focus on testing it in a wider sample set so that we can use the data to advocate for an ovarian cancer screening programme."
Cancer of the ovaries is more likely to affect women over the age of 55, but women of any age can develop it.
Symptoms include bloating, repeated abdominal and pelvic pain, having difficulty or feeling nauseous when eating, and needing to urinate more often.
Many of these symptoms can often point to less serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, however, they are more frequently noted in women with ovarian cancer.
The HSE recommends that women who are worried about these symptoms should keep a diary documenting how frequently and intensely they occur.
Ovarian cancer may be less common in women who have not experience the menopause, but if you are concerned about any of these health-related issues, you should always consult your doctor.