A study published on Thursday shows that annual blood tests combined with ultrasound scans could reduce deaths from ovarian cancer by 20 percent. A team led by Ian Jacobs at University College London enrolled over 200,000 women aged 50 to 74, tracking them for as long as 14 years. Half the women were not screened, a quarter of the woman received an annual ultrasound, and another 50,000 were given an annual blood test for CA-125, a compound whose levels rise in women with ovarian cancer, followed by an ultrasound if their levels were high. Women who got the blood test and ultrasound screening and got ovarian cancer were 15 percent less likely to die than other women who got ovarian cancer, and after seven years they were 23 percent less likely to die. 21,000 American women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, but the disease causes such vague symptoms it’s rarely recognized until too late. The new method shows promise of being the first to successfully screen women early for ovarian cancer, although it will take three more years of study before researchers can be “absolutely sure.”
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