Fact: In Australia alone, more than 1,580 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. And while recognised treatments are in place, there is currently no reliable form of testing available to detect the deadly disease in its earliest stages. This is why it’s often referred to as a ‘silent killer’ – because most patients don’t know they have it until it spreads to their other organs, at which point it’s too late to treat.
Now, a team of scientists at the University College of London have developed a blood test that can identify DNA fragments leaked by ovarian tumours before any symptoms show.
“By detecting the characteristic fingerprints of tumour DNA in blood, these tests will enable the diagnosis of ovarian cancer without invasive surgical procedures,” explained the projects coordinator, Martin Widschwendter.
Previously, the standard advice given to women at high-risk of developing the disease – due to family history or inherited gene mutations – was to have their ovaries and fallopian tubes removed.
“EPIFEMCARE’s blood tests will improve breast cancer screening by detecting aggressive tumours more effectively, ensuring that fewer women receive needless medical intervention,” Widschwendter said.