A newly developed ovarian cancer blood test appears to distinguish between cancerous and benign pelvic masses with up to 91% accuracy.
In 2023, nearly 20,000 American women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, claiming more lives than any other cancer of the female reproductive system, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates.
High-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGSOC) is the most common and the most lethal type of ovarian cancer, accounting for about 75% of all cases. Because there is no reliable screening test for HGSOC, it is almost always diagnosed at advanced stages.
Currently, surgery followed by pathological assessment is the most reliable way to diagnose ovarian cancer in women with a known pelvic mass — an abnormal growth of tissue in the lower abdomen or pelvis. However, there are still no effective screening tools for asymptomatic women.
Researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) developed a new blood test called OvaPrint™ that may help to determine if a pelvic mass is cancerous before the surgery.
In their study published in Clinical Cancer Research, the scientists analyzed 59 samples of tissue and 313 samples of plasma. The OvaPrint™ distinguished between cancerous and noncancerous pelvic masses with up to 91% accuracy, surpassing other commercial tests.
The test, however, appears to be less sensitive for non-HGSOC ovarian cancers, "albeit it may have potential utility for identifying low-grade and borderline tumors with higher malignant potential," according to the study.
The authors conclude, "OvaPrint™ is a highly sensitive and specific test that can be used for the risk assessment of HGSOC in symptomatic women."
However, further studies are necessary to validate the new ovarian cancer blood test and further develop it for detecting non-HGSOC ovarian cancers in symptomatic and asymptomatic women.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer
Other conditions, such as urinary tract infection or irritable bowel syndrome, can cause symptoms of ovarian cancer. They may include:
- Pelvic or abdominal (belly) pain
- Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms such as urgency (always feeling like you have to go) or frequency (having to go often)
When these symptoms are caused by ovarian cancer, they tend to be persistent and occur more and more often or become more severe. Discuss these symptoms with your healthcare provider if you experience them more than 12 times a month.
Other symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:
- Upset stomach
- Back pain
- Pain during sex
- Changes in a woman's period, such as heavier bleeding than normal or irregular bleeding
- Abdominal swelling with weight loss
OvaPrint™, the new ovarian cancer blood test, may help to identify malignant pelvic masses with up to 91% accuracy.
- Clinical Cancer Research. OvaPrint™ – a cell-free DNA methylation liquid biopsy for the risk assessment of high-grade serous ovarian cancer.
- American Cancer Society. Key Statistics for Ovarian Cancer.
- American Cancer Society. Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer.
- Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance. High-Grade Serous Carcinoma.