Researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) are developing a new blood test called the OvaPrint test, which shows promise in accurately detecting early-stage ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is the third most common gynecological cancer worldwide and is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, leading to lower survival rates. The lack of reliable screening tests for early detection is a major challenge in improving outcomes for ovarian cancer patients.
The OvaPrint test aims to address this challenge by analyzing small fragments of DNA shed by tumor cells into the blood. By examining the methylation patterns of these DNA fragments, the test can distinguish between cancerous and benign pelvic masses with up to 91% accuracy. This breakthrough could revolutionize the early detection of ovarian cancer and significantly improve treatment outcomes.
Diagnosing ovarian cancer is challenging due to the similarity of its early symptoms to other common conditions, such as menstrual cycle-related issues or urinary tract infections. Additionally, ovarian tumors are difficult to detect during a pelvic exam, as the ovaries are deep within the abdominal cavity. The OvaPrint test offers hope in overcoming these obstacles by providing a non-invasive and accurate screening tool.
The USC researchers focused their study on high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma, the most lethal and prevalent type of ovarian cancer. They recognized the need for different markers for other subtypes of ovarian cancer, which may explain the lack of success in previous screening tool development. The OvaPrint test’s cell-free DNA methylation liquid biopsy approach shows promise in detecting early-stage ovarian cancer and could potentially be adapted for other subtypes as well.
Although the results of this study are promising, larger-scale trials are required to further validate the OvaPrint test before it can be implemented as a general screening tool. However, gynecologic oncologists are optimistic about its potential impact. Having additional information about the nature of pelvic masses before surgery could improve surgical outcomes and guide treatment decisions. The OvaPrint test represents a significant step forward in ovarian cancer screening in the molecular age, with its high accuracy rate and ability to detect various types of early-stage cancers.