Regular blood tests could help the early detection of ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer effects hundreds of Irish women every year.

However, many of these cases are not diagnosed until the later stages of the disease. 

This is largely due to the fact that symptoms usually take a long time to appear, and when they do they are often mistaken for other illnesses. 

According to a new study, there’s now a way to accurately detect the disease in the early stages.

Research has revealed that regular blood tests could be the key. 

Doctors and researchers monitored a group of ‘high-risk’ women (carriers of the ovarian cancer gene) over a ten year period and noted that cancerous tumours were detected much earlier when the women underwent blood tests three times a year.

Although this is a promising development when it comes to the early detection of ovarian cancer, it must be stressed that the study would need to be extended over the next few years in order to accurately determine how many lives could be saved.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer include, bloated feeling, persistent swollen abdomen, pain or dragging sensation in your lower abdomen or side and vague indigestion or nausea, among others. 

At the moment there is no national screening programme in Ireland and women who feel they may be at risk are advised to visit their GP.

And remember, smear tests will not pick up the signs of ovarian cancer.