A new blood test could help diagnose cancer cases earlier.
Researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) developed a blood test to detect early onset ovarian cancer.
The test, called OvaPrint, is described as a “cell-free DNA methylation liquid biopsy for the risk assessment of high-grade serous ovarian cancer,” according to the report published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.
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The test is “highly sensitive and specific” for women experiencing symptoms, the results showed — with the potential for future use in asymptomatic cases.
High-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGSOC) is often diagnosed at later stages, the research states.
It is the most common and lethal type of ovarian cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health.
As of now, the most effective way to identify a pelvic mass is through surgery, followed by pathological testing.
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There are still no effective screening tools in women who are asymptomatic, the report stated.
The researchers were able to develop OvaPrint by testing samples to distinguish ovarian cancers from benign masses.
OvaPrint achieved a “positive predictive value of 95% and a negative predictive value of 88% for discriminating HGSOC from benign masses, surpassing other commercial tests,” the researchers reported.
The test proved to be less sensitive for non-HGSOC ovarian cancers, although it could potentially identify low-grade and borderline tumors with higher malignant potential.
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The researchers are looking into a follow-up study to validate results, according to Medical Press.
This validation could lead to OvaPrint’s commercial availability within the next two years.
“The test has the potential to improve treatment, because the surgical approach to removing a pelvic mass differs depending on whether it’s benign or not,” Bodour Salhia, the study’s coauthor and co-leader of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center’s genomic and epigenomic regulation research program, said in a statement, as Healthcare Brew noted.
“Right now, doctors essentially have to take their best guess.”
Fox News Digital reached out to the study authors for further comment.
Dr. Brian Slomovitz, director of gynecologic oncology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, reacted to the developments in an interview with Fox News Digital, noting that the “novel” study is for early detection in women with pelvic masses.
“It is not a cancer screening test, which looks at normal-risk women who have not been diagnosed with a mass,” he said. “In this group of women, investigators were able to identify those malignant tumors with a relatively high sensitivity and specificity.”
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He added, “This test is done to determine if a mass is malignant and needs to be removed. Also, in a real-world [scenario], it can determine if an oncologic surgeon should be doing the surgery.”
Slomovitz mentioned the largest ovarian cancer screening trial done, the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS), which identified a group of patients with earlier-stage disease when using their test.
“However, even with a positive result, this did not become standard of care because it didn’t demonstrate a survival difference between the groups,” he said.
The doctor suggested that the prevalence of ovarian cancer should be taken into consideration when performing early detection testing.
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“The prevalence of ovarian cancer in the population is one in 70,” he said. “The statistical outcomes need to not only show a sensitivity and specificity but, in a real-world population, an acceptable negative predictive value, in order to not miss any diagnosis of cancer.”
He added, “Nonetheless, it is interesting research and I look forward to future studies evaluating this test.”
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