Sunday, September 19, 2010

Improved tests to save from ovarian cancer

New and improved test to save women from ovarian cancer

Blood samples
SINGAPORE: The fight against ovarian cancer gets a shot in the arm with the development of a new test, said to be able to detect early stages of the disease with a more than 90 percent accuracy.

Called OvPlex, it is developed by Australian biotechnology company HealthLinx Limited in association with Healthscope, and it uses blood to detect the presence of cancer.

OvPlex is billed as the world's first five-biomarker test. What it means is that the system measures five different substances in the blood associated with ovarian cancer, instead of just one in commonly-used tests.

The new blood test was launched by Innovations Exchange (INEX), a leading women's health molecular diagnostic spin-off from the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Associate Professor Mahesh Choolani, chairman of INEX, said: "Currently, we use CA-125, which is meant for monitoring the disease, detection of recurrence and while CA-125 is ok for patients with advanced cancer, it's actually not very good for patients with early cancer."

He said data suggests CA-125 detects 50 per cent or less of early stage ovarian cancer, adding that there are other factors that affect CA-125's accuracy.

"Common conditions like endometriosis, pelvic infections, can actually alter the CA-125 as well, making it even less effective," he said.

Associate Professor Mahesh Choolani said that for OvPlex, with additional biomarkers, the detection rate of early ovarian cancer is increased.

And compared to CA-125, the new test lowers the false positive and false negative rates by about 30 per cent each.

Costing S$300, the 10-minute blood test that will be conducted at Quest Laboratories is already available at selected GPs and specialists in Singapore. Public hospitals and clinics will offer it by the end of the year.

Results will take up to 15 days. The new blood test is also available in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Singapore is the third country in the world to offer the test and the country will serve as a launch pad for the region including India, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Ovarian cancer is a rapidly growing problem throughout Asia. It is also the most lethal of all gynaecological cancers since the possibility of a cure in the later stages is low.

Three in four women with the disease are detected in the late stages and doctors are worried because in the late stages, only 30 per cent of women survive past five years. But if detected early, the survival rate is more than 90 per cent.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer affecting women in Singapore.

Every year in Singapore, about 265 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and nearly 100 women die from the disease.

Between 2003 and 2007, there were a total of 1,327 ovarian cancer cases and 471 patients died.

- CNA/ir

From; source article is below:New and improved test to save women from ovarian cancer

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