A team of researchers at Yale School of Medicine has developed a blood test, which has enough sensitivity and specificity to detect early stage ovarian cancer with 99 percent accuracy.
The findings are based on a previous study conducted by Yale School of Medicine in 2005 showing 95 percent effectiveness of a blood test using four proteins.
"The ability to recognize almost 100 percent of new tumours will have a major impact on the high death rates of this cancer. We hope this test will become the standard of care for women having routine examinations," said lead author Dr. Gil Mor at Yale Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences.
The phase II clinical trial included 500 patients, 350 healthy controls and 150 ovarian cancer patients.
The researchers validated the previous research and used a new platform called multiplex technology to simplify the test into one single reaction using very small amounts of serum from the blood.
The new platform uses six protein biomarkers instead of four, increasing the specificity of the test from 95 to 99.4 percent.
Mor and his colleagues looked for the presence of specific proteins and quantified the concentration of those proteins in the blood.
The Early Detection Research Network (EDRN) of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) independently assessed the results of the test.
"This is the most sensitive and specific test currently available," Mor said.
"Previous tests recognized 15 to 20 percent of new tumours. Proteins from the tumours were the only biomarkers used to test for ovarian cancer. That is okay when you have big masses of tumours, but it is not applicable in very early phases of the tumor.
"Testing the proteins produced by the body in response to the presence of the tumor as well as the proteins the tumours produce, helped us to create a unique picture that can detect early ovarian cancer," he added.
The study is published in the February 15 issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research.