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University of Arizona study could lead to quicker ovarian cancer diagnoses

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — A University of Arizona-led study could lead to an earlier diagnosis of ovarian cancer, the most deadly gynecological cancer in the United States.

The University of Arizona is involved in a project funded by the National Cancer Institute that could lead to an earlier diagnoses of the most deadly gynecological cancer in the United States.

Researchers at the school are hoping the $1 million study — funded by the National Cancer Institute — could help identify subtle tissue changes that could indicate for the deadly cancer.

UA professor Jennifer Barton, who is leading the study, said ovarian cancer is tough to detect.

“The ovaries are located deep in the body, and, often times, there are no symptoms until the disease is quite advanced,” she said.

Part of the project involves testing in mice to find early markers of the disease.

At the same time, Barton’s team is working to develop a new endoscope that can detect the cancer in the Fallopian tubes, where many researchers think it originates.

“We’re working on a very miniaturized endoscope that could go through the uterus and into the Fallopian tubes and be used as a screening for ovarian cancer in the hopes of detecting it early,” Barton said. “We have a bench-top prototype that we’ve tested in models of the female reproductive tract, and that we’ve also tested in pig tissue.”

Right now, the only way to confirm ovarian cancer is with a surgical biopsy. In over 70 percent of cases, the cancer has already spread to other organs before it is diagnosed.

Fewer than half of the women survive for five years after being diagnosed with the disease.

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