New study establishes criteria to detect ovarian cancer in asymptomatic postmenopausal women

ate interpretation of test results could ultimately help to save the lives of postmenopausal women who do not present with symptoms but have ovarian cancer, as well as save women who receive ambiguous results from invasive surgery when there is no real malignancy."

"These new guidelines are a significant step forward in the fight against women's cancers," explained Dr. Partridge. "We hope this will encourage further efforts to validate and refine these criteria in other populations so more women can be properly diagnosed and treated for ovarian cancer."

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic malignancies, according to the American Cancer Society. Annually, over 22,000 women in the U.S. will develop ovarian cancer and more than 16,000 will die from this disease.

Science Overview
Results from the first three years of The Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trials were reviewed to establish scoring criteria for distinguishing malignant from benign processes. Women enrolled in the study had annual screening for lung, colorectal and ovarian cancer. Although historically a CA-125 level over 35 has been considered abnormal, the authors found that a CA-125 of greater than 65 was the best predictor of ovarian cancer in a postmenopausal asymptomatic woman with an initial abnormal screen. In follow-up screening the following criteria, applied in a hierarchical manner, appear to be accurate at detecting malignancy:

  • CA-125 > 65;
  • Or a CA-125 increase of > 40 points;
  • Or a CA-125 change of > 10 with an ovary/cyst > 3 cm:
  • Or an ovary/cyst change of > 6.5 cm.

Using the above criteria for a single screen, 15 of the 20 cancers in the initial or baseline screening group (T0) would have been detected. The study found that subsequent annual screenings provided the opportunity to compare current CA-125 levels and/or transvagina

Contact: Jennifer Grunstad
Society of Gynecologic Oncologists

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