Researchers at the University College London are saying that performing a simple blood test every year can help in reducing deaths from ovarian cancer. According to the researchers, this is the first study to showcase the efficacy of screening for ovarian cancer. During the study, the researchers found that undergoing blood tests annually might reduce a woman’s chances of dying from ovarian cancer by as much as 20%.

The study, which has been published recently in the journal The Lancet, monitored the health of over 200,000 post-menopausal women, aged between 50 and 74 years, for 14 years. During those 14 years, 1,282 women got diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 649 lost their lives due to the disease.

Researchers divided the women randomly into three groups. Women in the first group underwent blood tests annually followed by ultrasounds in case the tests came up with abnormal results. Women in the second group, on the other hand, were screened every year using transvaginal ultrasound tests. The third one was a control group, and women in that group received no screening at all.

After excluding all preexisting cases, the researchers found that women undergoing blood test-based screening annually showcased significantly lower rate of mortality from ovarian cancer. Between the 7th and the 14th year of the study, the chances of death from the disease were found to reduce by as much as 20% among women undergoing blood tests every year. The researchers have plans of following up for another three years for evaluating long-term effects of screening.

Dr. David Agus, the current director of the USC Norris Westside Cancer Center, said that this is the first-ever study to show that lives can be saved through early detection and added that this makes the study extremely important.

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Agus informed that researchers carrying out this study tried to do something different with blood tests for ovarian cancer compared to what was done during the previous studies. They, instead of searching for any absolute number in the results of the blood tests, used a unique algorithm for spotting changes taking place over time and also took other risk factors of the disease into consideration.

The revelations made by the study might be encouraging, but the researchers have cautioned that the women will need to be followed up for nearly three more years for comprehending whether the new method is actually working.