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SNUBH diagnoses ovarian cancer with blood test
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2017.12.11 12:04
  • Updated 2017.12.11 12:04
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Researchers at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital (SNUBH) have developed for the first time a test that can differentiate benign and malignant ovarian tumors through a simple blood test, the hospital said Monday.

SNUBH Professor Kim Yong-bum

Ovarian cancer is one of the three major cancers contracted by women along with breast and cervical cancer. The tumor is easily treatable in earlier stages, but as it does not portray any specific symptoms, about 80 percent of patients find out they have the illness during the final stages of cancer -- end of phase three and later.

The SNUBH team led by Professor Kim Yong-bum of the department of gynecology developed a new type of non-invasive biopsy test that can accurately determine cancers cells within the blood by examining only five millimeters of the patient's blood.

Traditionally, an invasive biopsy was the only method that could accurately differentiate benign and malignant ovarian tumors. Although blood tests and image diagnosis were available, it was only used as a reference as they lacked accuracy.

The team examined 87 patients who were awaiting surgery, using its new detector system developed by KAIST Blood Cancer Cell Research Group from 2015 to 2016 and compared the test results with those obtained by the existing test methods to prove its efficacy.

As a result, the new method yielded a sensitivity of 100 percent and a specificity of 55.8 percent. The result was superior compared to the conventional blood diagnosis, ultrasound differential diagnosis, and image diagnosis. Sensitivity refers to the ability of the test to correctly identify those patients with the disease, while specificity refers to the ability of the test to identify those patients without the disease correctly.

“The team applied new immunostaining and detection technology to increase the reliability of cancer cell detection,” Professor Kim said. “The method is the world's first test that revealed that blood cancer cells could be used to differentiate benign and malignant ovarian tumors.”

The team expects that the study results will improve the possibility of early diagnosis of ovarian cancer in the future and ultimately contribute to improving the survival rate of ovarian cancer patients, Kim added.

The results of the study were published in Oncotarget, an oncology journal.


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