London, July 29 (IANS) Researchers have identified a protein that can help detect the earliest signs of ovarian cancer which begins in the female organs that produce eggs (ovaries) and is usually difficult to diagnose because it grows virtually unseen into the abdominal cavity.
If detected early enough, the deadly cancer in the ovaries responds well to chemotherapy. However, once it spreads, it becomes resistant to chemotherapy and is far more likely to kill, the researchers said.
“Ovarian cancer can be undetectable for up to four years and only a third of people with the cancer get an early diagnosis,” said Ahmed Ahmed, Professor at the Oxford University.
The findings showed that levels of a protein called SOX2 are much higher in the fallopian tubes of people with ovarian cancer.
“A test for SOX2 could not only help detect cancers early but in some cases would enable us to detect a tumour before it becomes cancerous,” Ahmed added.
Further, SOX2 levels is also higher in some people who are at high risk of developing ovarian cancer such as those with inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
Early treatment hugely improves the odds for patients, so early detection is essential. However, there is still a lot of work to be done because detecting SOX2 in the fallopian tubes is not an easy task, said the paper published in the online journal EbioMedicine.