Georgia Tech researchers have teamed up with the Ovarian Cancer Institute to develop a diagnostic test for identifying ovarian cancer at its earliest stage.
Early detection of ovarian cancer is key to survival. The disease has a 90 percent survival rate if caught early. However, symptoms of ovarian cancer often go undetected or misdiagnosed until it has spread, worsening the odds of survival. Because of this, ovarian cancer is the No. 1 most deadly cancer among women in the United States.
Current screening methods, such as pelvic exams, ultrasounds and CA-125 blood tests do not offer reliable results. “It was so frustrating to encounter newly diagnosed patients, who had experienced symptoms for only a few weeks, in such advanced stages,” said Dr. Benedict Benigno, founder and CEO of the Ovarian Cancer Institute and director of gynecologic oncology and Northside Hospital in Atlanta.
The team of researchers say they can detect specific metabolite levels that indicate ovarian cancer by using a blood sample, mass spectrometer and computer algorithm. This can help detect the disease as early as Stage 2 or Stage 2A, when the odds of survival are the greatest.
Ovarian cancer can be hard to detect and easily misdiagnosed with symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, new urinary symptoms such as urgency or frequency, pain during sex, and menstrual changes. Women should be aware of risk factors, which include advanced age, obesity, use of fertility drugs, estrogen and hormone therapy, a family history of cancer, and gene mutations.
According to the American Cancer Society, another risk factor for ovarian cancer is the use of talcum powder on the genitals. Researchers say that as many as 2,200 cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed each year may be caused by regular use of talcum powder on the genitals.
A jury recently found that consumer health care giant Johnson & Johnson knew of the ovarian cancer risks with its talc-containing products, such as Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, but failed to warn consumers of this risk.