According to a recent trial, regular blood tests can detect 86% of ovarian cancers before the point at which women normally would be diagnosed which is sparking conversations of national screenings in the UK.
It is often too late to recover from or treat ovarian cancer by the time it is detected so new early detection methods are needed urgently.
The trial conducted in the UK took place across a 14 year period and evaluated over 46,000 woman. The results found that ovarian tumours can be detected early.
Ovarian cancer affects approximately 315 women in Ireland every year and is the fifth most common cancer among women.
This type of cancer can go unnoticed and undiagnosed for a long time as the symptoms are similar to other conditions. The main symptoms include abdominal pain, persistent bloating and difficulty eating.
Ovarian tumours release very high levels of a chemical called CA125 in the blood which is already used as a test for patients with symptoms of the cancer. The test needs to be used as a methods of detecting the cancer early and not just used when patients are diagnosed. The marker should be both diagnostic and prognostic.
During the 14 year trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening, annual blood tests were taken on post-menopausal women across 13 NHS Trusts. The levels of CA125 were analysed over time and if levels became elevated then the women were sent for further tests including an ultrasound scan.
The trial results, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, showed 86% of cancers were picked up.
"It's good, but the truth lies in whether we've picked up the cancer early enough to save lives, we hope we have.” - Prof Usha Menon, from University College London
This is the largest trial in the world to have taken place that has questioned the benefit of screening programmes. This trial is meant to produce the final ruling.
Previously the same cut-off value of CA125 for all women was being used. The methods of analysing CA125 over-time was to establish what determines a high level for an individual woman. This personalised methods of screening may prove beneficial for other cancers, such as prostate.
The aim of the study was to establish whether ovarian screening actually saves lives. The final analysis of the impact of ovarian cancer screening on the mortality from the disease is under way. The results will be available in the latter part of 2015.
This innovative research in the UK could provide Ireland with a new means of ovarian cancer screening and hopefully save the lives of many women.
The benefits of health screening can be felt by both the employer and the employee alike. Health screening is an effective way of increasing employee morale, and leads to reduced sickness and levels of absenteeism.
Smoking Cessation Programmes, Carbon Monoxide Lung Analysis, Cardiovascular Risk Assessment, Alcohol Awareness/Risk Assessment, Spirometry, Celiac Testing, Weight and Stress Management.