After 20 years of work, a major clinical trial that has been designed to detect ovarian cancer in people has failed to draw any significant conclusion. Ovarian cancer is considered one of the most deadly and elusive types of cancer. Initially, the trial has elicited some promising results, as experts have been able to detect cases of ovarian cancers among participants with the help of annual blood tests. However, experts have said that routine testing for cancer is now a remote prospect. They have claimed that ovarian cancer is quite hard to detect as the symptoms of this type of cancer are generally mistaken for less severe health issues. These symptoms include a feeling of bloating, swollen or painful stomach, lack of appetite, and need to urinate more frequently than usual. The lead author of the clinical trial, Usha Menon has said that some women who are dealing with ovarian cancer are detected with the disease so late that they are too ill to put on any treatment.
As per the report, two out of every three patients who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer lose their lives within ten years of diagnosis. This trial is called the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening. Experts have said that it is the largest trial on ovarian cancer in the world. In the trial, experts have examined the levels of CA125 in the bloodstream of the participants. The CA125 is a chemical produced by ovarian tumors. The participants who have been found to have high levels of CA125 in their bloodstream have been sent for further examination such as an ultrasound scan. The authors of the trial have said that they have been able to detect more than 39 percent of ovarian cancer cases that have been in stage one or two. They have been able to identify around less than 10 percent of ovarian cancer patients who have been in stage three or four. However, the authors have concluded the trial stating that the large-scale screening trial has not been able to save lives.
They have expressed their disappointment over the final findings of the trial. Nevertheless, they have said that they will continue to work towards finding a better solution for early diagnosis and treatment for this deadly cancer. Experts who have been involved in the study have said that there are some shreds of evidence that show that cases of ovarian cancer that have been diagnosed earlier than usual as well have been equally aggressive and invasive. These cases have been hard to treat, said the experts. Now, scientists who are working hard to detect this type of cancer early are going to look for other chemicals in the bloodstream such as fragments of DNA discharged by ovarian tumors and exosomes-microscopic fatty spheres break off malignant cells. However, this observation as well needs long-term and large-scale clinical trials.
Professor Ian Jacobs from the University of New South Wales has said that it means scientists will have to accept that population screening for ovarian cancer is still more than a decade far. This is quite disappointing for scientists who have been hoping that they would be able to save the lives of thousands of women who are dealing with ovarian cancer without being diagnosed on time. As per the report, nearly 4000 women lose their lives due to ovarian cancer each year in the UK. The chief executive of Cancer Research UK, Michelle Mitchell has advised that people need to be more aware of their symptoms for early diagnosis and intervention. These symptoms can be quite vague but women need to be very vigilant and seek professional advice if symptoms last longer. The findings of this large-scale trial have been released in the Lancet medical journal.