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New Technology May Detect Early-Stage Ovarian Cancer

New Technology May Detect Early-Stage Ovarian Cancer
Results of Pilot Study Show Proteomics May Be More Accurate Than CA-125 Test
M. D. Anderson News Release 02/07/02

A new technology utilizing the emerging science of proteomics may offer a sensitive and specific tool for detecting ovarian cancer at its most treatable stage, a published study reports.

Dr. Gordon Mills, professor of molecular therapeutics at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, teamed with principal investigators from the National Cancer Institute and the FDA-NCI Clinical Proteomics Program on the study. The Early Diagnosis Research Network (EDRN) also contributed to the study. The research is published in the Feb. 9 issue of The Lancet.

The science of proteomics involves the large-scale identification of proteins that, when abnormal, can induce cellular changes for many cancers. M. D. Anderson recently initiated a proteomics program.

Using a mathematical tool developed specifically for this study, proteomic data and a drop of the patient's blood, researchers studied protein patterns in samples from 116 healthy women and ovarian cancer patients. The protein patterns correctly identified all 50 ovarian cancer cases, including all 18 Stage 1 cases. Of the 66 cases of non-malignant disease, 63 were recognized as not having cancer. The CA-125 test, discovered by Dr. Robert Bast, vice president for translational research at M. D. Anderson, is currently the most commonly used test for detecting ovarian cancer, but it must be paired with other tests to be fully accurate. A combination of the new approach with CA-125 might prove superior to either test alone.

"These are very exciting preliminary results from a pilot study," said Dr. Mills. "This study demonstrates that there is potential in looking at protein patterns combined with other markers coming from the Human Genome Project and other approaches, including a number of ongoing studies at M. D. Anderson. To fully understand how effective this technology might be will require a large-scale research project involving patients and long-term follow up."

The need for biomarkers for the detection of early ovarian cancer is vital, said Dr. Mills. Because there are no obvious symptoms of ovarian cancer, it is diagnosed at a late stage in more than 80 percent of patients. For patients diagnosed at this late stage, a five-year survival is about 35 percent. In contrast, patients diagnosed at an early stage have a five-year survival of 90 percent.

For more information about the study, contact NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.

2/7/02


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