A Simple Blood Test Can Measure Immune Response to Improve Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis

A simple blood test can now measure the body’s own immune response to enhance ovarian cancer diagnosis, according to the findings of a new study published in Scientific Reports.

The study, conducted in two hospitals in Melbourne, Australia, focused on women with advanced ovarian cancer and used an immune marker for inflammation (IL-6) in conjunction with cancer markers to detect epithelial ovarian cancer in blood.

The findings, which were validated across two separate human trial groups, found that testing for a specific immune biomarker allows clinicians to identify whether growths on the ovaries are cancerous or not – eliminating the need for MRI scans or ultrasounds. “Our new test is as accurate as the combined results of a standard blood test and ultrasound,” said Senior Author and Chief Investigator, Professor Magdalena Plebanski in a press release.

“This is especially important for women in remote or disadvantaged communities, where under-resourced hospitals may not have access to complex and expensive equipment like ultrasound machines or MRI scanners. “It also means patients with benign cysts identified through imaging could potentially be spared unnecessary surgeries.

“Ovarian cancer is the deadliest women’s cancer, a statistic that has not changed in 30 years,” Prof. Plebanski added. “Every day in Australia, four women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and three will die from the disease.

“Developing tests that are simpler and more practical may help get more women to hospital for treatment more effectively, with the hope that survival rates will improve.”