Researchers said they have identified three promising biological signals that could help detect ovarian cancer before patients display any symptoms.
TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State University researchers said they have identified three promising biological signals that could help detect ovarian cancer before patients display any symptoms.
Researchers from the university’s Biodesign Institute said identifying the biomarkers is another step toward early detection.
In the U.S., ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecological cancer, killing more than 15,000 women a year, said Dr. Kristina Butler, a gynecological oncology specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale.
The study employed high-density microarray technology that uses a sample of the patient’s blood to identify biomarkers for ovarian cancer, researchers said.
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Ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths for women, according to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.
Doctors generally don’t diagnose the cancer until it’s in the advanced stages, and only 15 percent of ovarian cancer patients are diagnosed early, according to the alliance.
Researchers said the biomarkers can combat that late detection.
Biomarkers are autoantibodies, a type of protein produced by the immune system. These autoantibodies don’t cause the disease. Rather, they act as an early warning system that abnormal proteins produced by cancer are present in the body.
Physicians use biomarkers to diagnose other diseases. For example, cholesterol tests are biomarkers for heart disease, and blood pressure can indicate hypertension.
The institute, which focuses its research on finding natural solutions to address global challenges in health care, also is researching biomarkers in other cancers, including breast cancer.