Testing for levels of CA125 in the blood is a useful tool for gauging the likelihood of ovarian cancer and could help detect other types of cancer among patients in primary care, according to research presented at the 2019 National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference in Glasgow, UK (November 3-5). Although the CA125 test is already in use in countries around the world, this is the first large study to look at how well it performs in general practice for testing women who have possible symptoms of ovarian cancer. Researchers say their results could guide women and their general practitioners (GPs) on whether more invasive tests are needed to check for ovarian and other cancers. They also say that clinical guidelines could now be improved to ensure urgent referrals are made for women most at risk. The research was led by Dr. Garth Funston (photo), a Clinical Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, UK. He said: "Less than half of women with ovarian cancer survive for five years following diagnosis. The majority of women are not diagnosed until the disease is advanced, which makes it more difficult to cure. It's important that GPs have effective tools to detect ovarian cancer early and ensure patients are referred appropriately. While CA125 is widely used in general practice in the UK and internationally, prior to this study, it was unclear how effective a test it really was in general practice." The research included data on 50,780 women who visited GPs in England with possible signs of ovarian cancer, such as persistent bloating or abdominal pain, and were tested for levels of CA125 in their blood between May 2011 and December 2014.
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