London : A new computer test has been developed that is helping doctors to accurately predict the survival span of women suffering from advanced ovarian cancer.
The test, developed by experts at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, highlighted a ‘staggering’ difference between those patients who would live for five years or more and those who would die before that, reports Daily Mail.
It examines the cell ‘ecosystem’ around secondary tumors, in other parts of the body, once cancer has spread from the ovaries.
The test gives a score according to whether the tumor spread is in one dominant cell type, or its more diverse cell population containing immune or connective tissue cells.
Scientists found that survival rates of women with high score were far more than those of women with a low score.
Just 9 per cent of women with a high score survived five years from diagnosis, compared with 42 per cent of those whose cancer spread were dominated by one cell type.
Doctors said the test will help in identifying those women, who have the most life-threatening type of cancer and who urgently need the most aggressive treatment.
About 7,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the UK and the disease kills about 4,000 women a year.
Symptoms can be vague and include feeling bloated or full, irregular periods or bleeding, tummy or back pain and passing urine more often than normal.
Pain during sex and constipation are other possible signs.
Researcher Yinyin Yuan said, “We used to think of tumors as simply a collection of cancer cells but we now know that they are often complex ecosystems made up of different types of healthy cell, too. Our study has revealed that diverse cell populations at the sites of cancer spread are a clinically important feature of particularly aggressive ovarian cancers.”
Adding, “We have developed a new test to assess the diversity of metastatic sites and use it to predict a woman’s chances of surviving their disease.”
“More work is needed to refine our test and move it into the clinic but, in future, it could be used to identify women with especially aggressive ovarian cancers so they can be treated with the best possible therapies available on the NHS or through clinical trials,” said Yuan.
Research on the test involved 61 women with 192 secondary tumours.
The findings were published in the journal Oncotarget.
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