A test that measures protein concentrations in the blood can signal the presence of ovarian cancer, a new study shows. The finding brings scientists a step closer to a diagnostic tool for catching this stealthy cancer early enough for effective treatment. The researchers caution, however, that they haven't yet perfected the procedure.
There is currently no routine screening for ovarian cancer in the general population, even though more than 22,000 women are diagnosed with the disease each year in the United States. Doctors typically test for ovarian cancer when a woman experiences a combination of symptoms, such as abdominal pain, bloating, and abnormal vaginal bleeding, or if she has a family history of this cancer. Doctors use ultrasound or touch to examine the abdomen and can use a blood sample to look for a high concentration of the protein called CA125, which sometimes indicates ovarian cancer.