20Jul

Find out more about the brand new ROCA test, which is helping to detect ovarian cancer at an earlier stage before any symptoms are present.

Ovarian cancer is common in the UK, affecting around 7,000 women each year. It can often be difficult to spot the symptoms, meaning many women are not diagnosed until the disease is in its later stages and has spread to other parts of the body. For this reason, ovarian cancer is often described as the silent killer. There is now a brand new test for ovarian cancer, called the ROCA Test. Here, we explain more about this disease and what the new test means for diagnosis.

ovarian-cancer

You are more likely to develop ovarian cancer if you are older, as eight in ten cases occur in women who have gone through menopause. In one in ten cases, there is a genetic link so, if two or more of your close family members have a history of ovarian cancer or breast cancer, then you should discuss this with your doctor.

Spotting ovarian cancer

Early diagnosis of ovarian cancer is the most important factor in increasing the chance of successful treatment. However, most women don’t realise they have it until the late stages when the cancer is more aggressive. Currently, three quarters of women with the disease are only diagnosed once the cancer has already spread. Only three percent of women in the UK say they feel very confident about recognising a symptom of ovarian cancer.

The best way to protect yourself is to be vigilant for the signs and symptoms. You should look out for the following:

  • increased abdominal size or persistent bloating;
  • difficulty eating and feeling full;
  • pelvic or abdominal pain; and
  • needing to wee more urgently or more often.

These symptoms can be caused by countless other conditions and aren’t usually a cause for concern. However, with ovarian cancer the symptoms happen frequently – typically more than 12 times in a month, and are more persistent. Make sure you see a doctor if you are concerned about any of the symptoms mentioned above.

The ROCA Test

The ROCA Test is a simple blood test and it forms the first part of a multimodal screening for ovarian cancer. The results of the blood test give healthcare professionals an indication of how likely a woman is to have ovarian cancer, and whether she should undergo additional testing. Further tests are often more invasive, but give a more conclusive answer.

The ROCA Test has undergone extensive research by the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKTOCS). After 15 years and 670,000 screenings, UKTOCS has announced that the ROCA Test is safe and effective. Multimodal screening using the ROCA Test identified 85 out of 100 cancers, which is twice as many as would have been found by a conventional test.

What does this mean for women?

The ROCA Test could help to prevent one in five deaths from ovarian cancer by diagnosing women earlier. This test is able to detect ovarian cancer before the woman experiences any symptoms and is particularly useful for monitoring women who are known to have a high genetic risk of ovarian cancer. This means that more women can be diagnosed earlier, when the disease is easier to treat.

How can I get tested?

BMI Healthcare is now offering the ROCA Test across the country, but it is not currently available on the NHS. If you choose to have the ROCA Test, you will be cared for by BMI gynaecological consultants at one of their screening clinics. You can find out more about cancer screening and treatments at the cancer care hub.

Content Supplied by BMI Healthcare

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