Researchers at the HonorHealth Research Institute have made detecting early-stage ovarian cancer a research priority.
Why? Because at the time of diagnosis, four out of five women have advanced ovarian cancer that has spread throughout the abdomen. And that makes a cure for this disease unlikely. On the flip side, more than 90 percent of women diagnosed with localized Stage I ovarian cancer will be alive five years after diagnosis. The challenge is to diagnose ovarian cancer at this early stage when long-term survival after treatment is possible. Only 15 percent of all women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at an early stage.
Ovarian cancer accounts for 2.5 percent of all female cancer cases, but 5 percent of cancer deaths, due to the low overall survival rate from being diagnosed at advanced stages.
So developing effective screening tests and markers for ovarian cancer, especially for women at higher-than-average risk, remains a priority.
With breast and colon cancers, screening tests are very effective, resulting in lower death rates, thanks to early diagnosis and treatment. But ovarian cancer has not had the same success.
Current tests that may include a blood test for a CA-125 and/or an ultrasound have not been shown sensitive enough to diagnose ovarian cancer at an early stage. Therefore, they're not recommended as the only tests for high-risk women. Better screening tests and biomarkers of early stages of disease are needed to make an impact on curbing this deadly cancer.
With that in mind, consider participating in the institute's Early Detection and Prevention Program for Ovarian Cancer if you:
- Have a strong family history of ovarian and breast cancer.
- Have a known gene mutation, such as BRCA 1, BRCA 2 or Lynch syndrome genes associated with ovarian cancer.
- Are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent with a suggestive family history.