The journal Endocrine-Related Cancer has published work showing that scientists from the Clinical Proteomics Program of the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) have discovered a test that was 100% effective for detecting early ovarian cancer in their study.
The study describes the use of a high-resolution mass spectrometer to measure patterns of protein markers in a small sample of blood. The mass spectrometer measured slight differences in the weights between normal and cancerous proteins, enabling the researchers to identify the cells that would lead to cancer. The results of the trial revealed 100 percent sensitivity and 100 percent specificity for the detection of ovarian cancer, including the correct classification of all stage I ovarian cancer cases (where the cancer is still confined to the ovaries).
There are about 6,800 new cases of ovarian cancer each year in the UK, making it the fourth most common cancer among British women*.
Dr Tim Veenstra of the NCI Biomedical Proteomics Program and lead author of the study stated “This system is the latest generation of the technology we first described in Lancet in 2002. In this new study we used a larger set of new clinical samples (250 samples), and we showed that a higher resolution instrument could achieve higher sensitivity and specificity compared to the lower resolution instrument used previously.”
Dr Emanuel Petricoin of the FDA stated “This is the first step of the rigorous validation necessary as we attempt to speed this technology to broad public benefit.” Dr Lance Liotta of the NCI stated, “We incorporated new quality control methods into this latest study, and achieved 100% sensitivity and specificity in blinded testing and validation sets. We are focusing on ovarian cancer as a high priority because early diagnosis could have a major impact on treatment outcome.”
Dr Veenstra added “At present, this is a system in development, so it's not yet suitable for a routine screening programme. However this method promises a real step forward in detecting ovarian cancer at an early stage. We hope that within a few years we will be able to develop a system which will enter routine diagnostic use.”