According to researchers in the US, a new way of screening for ovarian cancer is showing “potential”.
Tumors in the ovaries are hard to detect in the earliest stages meaning it can be too late to treat them effectively by the time they are found.
A trial of 4,051 women, reported in the journal Cancer, showed the method could identify those needing treatment.
But a huge study taking place in the UK will give a final verdict on the test when it is completed in 2015.
There is a survival rate of up to 90% when ovarian cancer is caught early, compared with less than 30% if it is discovered in the later stages.
Unlike other cancers, the symptoms, such as pelvic and abdominal pain or persistent bloating, are often put down to other common ailments and the tumor can be missed.
There is no mass screening programme to detect the cancer either.
A new way of screening for ovarian cancer is showing potential
Scientists already know that levels of a protein in the blood, called CA125, are often higher with ovarian cancer.
However, it is too unreliable on its own. It misses some patients and tells others they have the cancer when they are actually healthy.
Researchers are now testing the idea of using the blood test to sort patients in risk groups based on levels of CA125. Instead of going straight for surgery, low-risk patients are tested again in a year, medium-risk ones after three months and high-risk patients have an ultrasound scan to hunt for tumors.
The US study, at the University of Texas, followed post-menopausal women for 11 years on average.
Ten women had surgery based on their ultrasound scan and all the cancers detected were at an early stage.
Researcher Dr. Karen Lu said: “Clinical practice definitely should not change from our study, but it gives us an insight – we didn’t get a lot of false positives.”
She said the UK study of 50,000 people would give definitive results: “There are two big questions – do we see cancers at an earlier stage and do we decrease the number of deaths.”
Former US President George W. Bush showed his compassionate side by spending Fourth of July at an orphanage in Lusaka, Zambia.
George Bush, 66, and his wife Laura visited the Kasisi Children’s Home in Lusaka, one of the largest orphanages in the country.
Pictures released during George Bush’s one-week stay in Africa show him tenderly hugging a young boy and holding a baby while his wife looks on.
George Bush can be seen interacting with the children at the center which is home to 230 orphans – 60 of whom live with HIV.
George Bush during his mission to renovate a women's cancer screening center in Zambia
The former president appeared to be a hit with the children, who lined up to shake his hand and listened intently as he read to them.
His visit was part of a mission to raise awareness of a cervical cancer detection and treatment program he has set up in Zambia, which has the second highest number of cervical cancer cases in the world.
Many Zambian women infected with the disease are also living with HIV and have weakened immune systems, according to the Catholic Online.
“The saddest thing of all is to know a lady’s life has been saved from AIDS but died from cervical cancer,” George W. Bush told the website.
“And so starting in Zambia, the Bush Center, along with our partners, are going to put on a cervical cancer crusade to save lives.”
George Bush described his trip as “a labor of love” which was born out of a commitment to save lives.
Also on Independence Day, the former first family visited University Teaching Hospital where they opened the Center of Excellence for Women’s Cancer Control, which aims to reduce deaths from women’s cancers in the African region by raising the standards of care through education, training and research.
During his remarks at the hospital, George Bush said: “On our country’s birthday, it is important to remember the blessings of freedom and the blessings of being an American and to give back.”