Finding the First Signs of Ovarian Cancer

Molecular, cellular changes may point to early stages of disease

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TUESDAY, April 13, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Specific molecular and cellular changes in the ovary may someday help doctors detect ovarian cancer at an early stage, says a Temple University study in the April issue of Gynecologic Oncology.

There is no accurate test for early detection of ovarian cancer, and it's often diagnosed only after it's reached an advanced stage.

In this study, Temple researchers compared the healthy ovaries of women with ovarian cancer to ovaries in women without cancer.

"Our study suggests that the 'normal' ovaries of women with ovarian cancer have not only structural changes, but also molecular changes that are less frequently found in the ovaries of healthy women," senior author Dr. Enrique Hernandez, a professor and chairman of obstetrics and gynecology, said in a prepared statement.

He and his team identified structural changes in the cells of the ovary lining and molecular changes that involved higher levels of a protein that prevents cell death.

"This study and others like it are building the foundation for better methods of early detection of ovarian cancer. If we are able to identify early changes along the path by which a normal ovarian cell turns into a cancerous ovarian cell, we might be able to develop a test to detect the disease earlier, even before it becomes cancerous," Hernandez said.

More information

The National Women's Health Information Center has more about ovarian cancer.

SOURCE: Temple University, news release, April 2004

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