Magazine article Science News

Chemical Tip-Off to Ovarian Cancer

Magazine article Science News

Chemical Tip-Off to Ovarian Cancer

Article excerpt

Ovarian cancer's high fatality rate stems in part from the difficulty of detecting the disease and monitoring its spread. Most physicians rely on time-consuming and expensive imaging techniques, such as CT scans, to find and track ovarian tumors. But a new blood test already in use in the Netherlands may soon improve their ability to follow the course of the disease.

M.E.L. van der Burg, an oncologist at the Daniel den Hoed Clinic in Rotterdam, reports that a blood serum protein called CA 125 is an effective indicator of the recurrence of ovarian cancer. In some cases, she says, the presence of CA 125 is a better tip-off of ovarian cancer's spread than are standard imaging techniques.

Most human tissues contain low levels of CA 125. The protein, whose normal function remains unknown, is also secreted by tumors of the ovaries, colon, cervix and breast, and shows up in elevated levels in blood samples from patients with these malignancies.

Van der Burg's team used CA 125 blood tests to detect the recurrence of ovarian tumors in 113 women over an average of seven years. …

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