Ovarian cancer blood test may reduce mortality

After following participants in the study for more than 11 years, results show a 20 percent reduction in death from ovarian cancer as a result of screening.

By Stephen Feller

LONDON, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Ovarian cancer typically caries a poor prognosis, with 40 percent of women surviving five years after receiving a diagnosis. Researchers in a large study in Britain found screening may reduce mortality from the disease by one-fifth after a follow-up of 14 years.

Researchers in the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening published in The Lancet that annual blood tests helped discover ovarian cancer earlier, so it could be treated earlier.


Ovarian cancer was diagnosed in 20,785 women and killed 14,404 in the United States in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ovarian cancer represents about 3 percent of cancer diagnoses in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death.

While a 20 percent reduction in deaths is a significant result, the researchers caution more studies will need to be conducted before moving to a national program motivating annual tests.

"I am delighted that the UKCTOCS results suggest that early detection by screening can save lives," said Dr. Ian Jacobs, a professor at University College London, in a press release. "Longer follow up is needed but this brings hope in the fight against a disease for which the outlook for women is poor and has not improved much during the last three decades."


Researchers randomly assigned 202,546 women between 2001 and 2005 to receive either a multimodal screening or transvaginal ultrasound screening, or no screening at all: 50,564 in the MMS group, 50,623 in the USS group, and 101,299 in the no screening group.

At a median follow-up of 11 years with the participants, 338 in the MMS group were diagnosed with ovarian cancer, 314 were diagnosed in the USS group, and 630 in the no screening group. Of the women with a diagnosis, 148 in the MMS group, 154 in the USS group, and 347 who were not screened died of ovarian cancer.

The statistics represent an average 20 percent reduction in mortality overall, and a 28 percent decrease in years 7 to 14 after diagnosis. The results, researchers said, suggest 15 ovarian cancer deaths could be prevented for every 10,000 women who have annual blood tests for between 7 and 11 years.

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