New blood test used to detect ovarian cancer

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by JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on August 3, 2010 at 5:45 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:45 AM

More than a million women have a tumor or cyst on their ovaries, but that doesn't mean they all have cancer.

Traditionally, some patients had to go through several surgeries just to find out for sure. Now, the FDA has approved a new blood test to use instead.

More than a million women are living with ovarian masses. About 22,000 will be told, "It's cancer."  About 14,000 will die this year.

Traditional tests missed Cindy Hastings' cancer. A routine surgery turned into a hysterectomy when doctors finally spotted it. Then, she had a second surgery to make sure the cancer didn't spread.

"That was pretty devastating because, you know, when someone is telling you it's not cancer and then you find out it is," said Cindy Hastings, had ovarian mass.

Pathologist Dr. Eric Fung, chief scientific officer at Vermillion, hopes the blood test his team created will help women avoid multiple surgeries and get the right treatment sooner.

"It's known as the silent killer because it's difficult to diagnose," said Fung.

The test, called Ova1, reads five specific proteins. It can determine if an ovarian mass is malignant or benign or if the patient needs to see a specialist for surgery.

"If I would have known and had the Ova1 prior, I wouldn't have had to have the second surgery. I would have just gone right on to the oncology doctor," said Cindy.

In a study, conventional tests like cat scans found 72 percent of ovarian cancers. The new blood test spotted 92 percent.

Cindy is staying strong by training for a half marathon.

"I'll get through. I may be coming in at 8 p.m. at night, but I'll get through it," said Cindy.

A will that she hopes pushes her to win the race against ovarian cancer as well.

Doctors say there are more than 300,000 ovarian mass surgeries in the U.S. each year. With this new test, they hope to eliminate some of those surgeries and help women who do need treatment get it sooner.

For more information:

http://www.questdiagnostics.com/hcp/topics/obgyns/ova1.html

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