According to researchers, a new technique for detecting ovarian cancer at an early stage is demonstrating its potential. Researchers in the US are using cutting-edge technology called proteomics to differentiate healthy from diseased tissue. Proteomics involves creating a 'fingerprint' of tissue, based upon detecting and analysing the different protein molecules it contains. We already know that the protein profile of cells varies depending upon whether it is in a healthy or a diseased state.
Researchers in the US have established proteomic profiles for healthy women and those with ovarian cancer, using blood samples. They then used this knowledge on another group of women - of whom 50 had ovarian cancer (some of them at the very earliest stage that is hard to detect) and 60 did not.
The proteomics technique could identify those women who did, and did not, have cancer with 100 per cent sensitivity and 90 per cent specificity (that is, five per cent of results were false positives). Given that ovarian cancer is often not diagnosed until it is well advanced, the proteomics approach could be extremely valuable.