OVA1 test to diagnose ovarian cancer early

New Delhi: Diagnosing ovarian cancer will now become easier in the country as a lab here is going to introduce a cost effective and non-surgical method for evaluation of a ovarian mass for cancer.

OVA1 test — the first blood test cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration — will soon be introduced by Quest Diagnostics which promises to help in the pre-surgical evaluation of a woman`s ovarian mass.

Ovarian cancer is a silent killer because its symptoms are very nondescript. Under normal circumstances, a physician cannot know if an ovarian mass is caused by cancer until she operates and tests it.

"If there is a huge mass in the abdomen, we immediately advise for a ultrasound and a CT scan. To be more sure that this mass is cancerous we do a tissue culture of the mass," a doctor with the department of oncology in Safdarjung hospital said.

"Now, even before the surgery, based on a blood sample, OVA1 can indicate the probability of cancer in an ovarian mass. OVA1 can also help prevent incidences of double surgeries, thereby reducing pain, cost, and emotional trauma to the patient," Dr Palat Menon, senior director, medical and clinical trials, Quest Diagnostics India said.

According to the WHO, ovarian cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in India. Every year almost 30,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and over 20,000 succumb to the disease.

The test utilizes five well-established biomarkers and proprietary software to determine the likelihood of malignancy in women with ovarian mass for whom surgery is planned.

Vermillion Inc., a molecular diagnostics company, developed the test in cooperation with Quest Diagnostics.

However, Dr Eric T. Fung chief scientific officer with Vermillion cautioned, "OVA1 test is only for those above 18 years of age. This test should be utilised as a screening test. It should be used when the physician`s independent clinical and radiological evaluation does not indicate malignancy."