Danish chemist furthers ovarian cancer research with new test
Klas Ola Blixt, a professor of chemistry at the University of Copenhagen, has developed a test that will more accurately detect ovarian cancer in women with high levels of a protein called CA125.
"We hope that it may mean we will be able to make a diagnosis earlier in the process, so women who really have ovarian cancer can get treatment quickly," Blixt told Videnskab.
"At the same time we also hope that our test can help to exonerate those women who do not have cancer, so they do not have to be unnecessarily scared."
Levels can spike for other reasons
CA125 is a protein found naturally in the body. Having an abnormally high level of CA125 is a common symptom of ovarian cancer.
However, levels of CA125 can spike during infections and menstruation, making the tests less accurate and often inconclusive.
But new test will address this
Blixt has introduced a new step to the testing process that monitors the sugar in cancerous and non-cancerous cells.
Cancerous cells typically have an extra "sugar layer" that differentiates them from healthy cells. By detecting this difference in cell groups, Blixt contends that it will be easier to detect ovarian cancer at an early stage.
Using a substance known as Lectin, Blixt is able to detect whether a patient with high levels of CA125 is suffering from cancer or not by the differences in cell sugar groups.
Speed is critical
Currently, CA125 tests can often take months to provide conclusive evidence of cancer, delaying treatment during critical times and often leading to false diagnoses.
"With our method we can in principle determine whether the patient has cancer at the first measurement," said Blixt.
"It saves a lot of time and measurements, and it can mean the difference in whether the patient survives or not."
Further research and testing are necessary before the test becomes standard medical procedure.