Today, no effective test is available, which means the disease is usually detected only in its advanced stages. That could change with the Frazer Lab’s discovery of biomarkers for ovarian cancer: mRNA transcripts expressed only in ovarian tumors.
These markers could allow detection of even just a few tumor cells present in the asymptomatic phase. What’s more, the such a test could rely on tissue samples taken during routine gynecologic exams, like for Pap smears. Meanwhile, the group is continuing its work developing relevant primers for the transcripts already identified and searching for more.
Among cancer deaths in US women, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause.
Image: Pap test, by Nephron - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9084518