Is there a better test for ovarian cancer than the one for CA-125?

While research with CA-125 as a screening test for ovarian cancer continues, investigators are also exploring other ways to tackle the problem of early detection. One study focuses on carbohydrates called glycans, which are found on the surfaces of proteins. The pattern of glycans detected in blood is significantly different between ovarian cancer patients and healthy women, and scientists are developing a test to detect these abnormal patterns. These abnormal glycans may provide a more sensitive and specific test than the one for proteins identified by CA-125 alone.

Other research involves cancer stem cells (very primitive cells from which many cancers are likely to originate). Scientists have found that if a woman in remission from ovarian cancer has even 11 of these cancer stem cells remaining after treatment, her cancer can regrow from those few cells. Most recently, specific glycoproteins unique to those stem cells have been discovered; a screening test could be developed that detects those molecules in the blood stream. 

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