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UK professor helps develop test to detect ovarian cancer

After four years of research, a new test will help identify cancer in women with ovarian cysts before surgery.

Until the OVA1 blood test was created, a precise diagnosis before surgery wasn't possible, said Dr. Frederick R. Ueland, associate professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and a principal investigator on the research project.

Because of that, about a third of patients with ovarian cancer ended up not having surgery by an ovarian cancer specialist. That's a problem, he said, because aggressive surgery is the key to successful treatment of ovarian cancer.

OVA1 should be available to the public by the end of the year, said Wendy Bost, spokesman for Quest Diagnostics, which will distribute the test. It was approved by the FDA earlier this fall after being tested at 27 sites, including UK.

The OVA1 test measures the levels of five well-established biomarkers and combines the results into a single numerical score. It can be used in any woman older than 18 who has an ovarian adnexal mass for which surgery is planned, but who has not yet been referred to an oncologist.

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths in women, according to statistics cited by UK.

An estimated 21,600 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2009, and about 14,600 women are likely to die of the disease.

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