Ovarian cancer test in sight as scientists find earliest signs of disease

Women could be tested for ovarian cancer in a similar way as doctors test for cervical cancer

ovarian cancer test

Ovarian cancer could be detected years before any symptoms emerge after scientists at Oxford University found a way to spot the first signs of the disease.

A study funded by Ovarian Cancer Action has discovered a protein that brings us closer to early detection and better treatment of Ovarian cancer. The discovery of the protein, SOX2, means that the disease could be spotted years before symptoms arise, giving women a better chance of successful treatment.

Currently, ovarian cancer can grow for up to four years before women notice symptoms, The Telegraph reported. Of the 7,100 new cases diagnosed each year in the UK, only a third of women get an early diagnosis of the disease. An early diagnosis is crucial for improved survival outcomes.

Professor Ahmed from the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford University found that levels of the protein SOX2 were much higher in the fallopian tubes of women with ovarian cancer and those genetically predisposed to the disease. Based on this finding, he hopes to use SOX2 levels as a marker for screening women before they present with symptoms.

“A test for SOX2 could not only help detect cancers early but in some cases would enable us to detect a tumour before it becomes cancerous,” he said.

“Early treatment hugely improves the odds for patients, so early detection is essential. However, there is still a lot of work to be done because detecting SOX2 in the fallopian tubes is not an easy task.”

Katherine Taylor, chief executive at research charity Ovarian Cancer Action, said: “We need to save the lives of more women by making ovarian cancer treatment more effective.

“Early detection and effective treatment are vital, and these discoveries will hopefully bring us closer to both.”

 

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