Putney Woman Hails Peace of Mind Given By Ovarian Cancer Test

New screening process claims to be twice as accurate as existing test

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A new ovarian cancer screening method is now available in London, after thousands of women took part in clinical trials. The ROCA blood test has been 30 years in the making and testing, and its developers claim that it twice as accurate as the existing blood test.

Caroline Jordan - ovarian cancer text

Caroline Jordan, from Putney, lost her mother to ovarian cancer earlier this year

Currently there is no routine screening for ovarian cancer, partly because the existing ‘cut off’ CA125 protein test is not accurate enough. In any case, doctors usually only offer this test after a woman is showing symptoms, by which time the cancer has usually spread beyond the ovaries. For these reasons, ovarian cancer survival rates are poor. Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women, but of the 7,100 women diagnosed per year in the UK only 46% currently live beyond five years of diagnosis.

The ROCA® Test, instead, measures the changes in a woman’s CA125 levels over time. The UKCTOCS trial proved The ROCA® Test to be twice as accurate as the existing test, picking up almost 90% of women with cancer, even before they showed symptoms, compared to just 41% with the ‘cut off’ test according to its proponents.

The NHS part-funded the two trials to test ROCA as a protocol for screening. Following the final results later this year it is hoped they will eventually roll out a screening programme for all women over 50, who account for more than 8 out of 10 cases of ovarian cancer, and for women with a high familial risk – usually a faulty BRCA gene - who represent one in 10 cases.

HR manager Caroline Jordan, 38, from Putney, lost her mother to ovarian cancer earlier this year, just as she was finding out she also carried the faulty BRCA1 gene.

She had her first ROCA Test, with a normal result, in early October. She said: “After my mum fell ill I found out that ovarian cancer is all over my family tree. I know I have an 85% risk of breast cancer and 60% of ovarian, but I’m more worried about ovarian cancer. With breast cancer you have screening and a good chance of recovery, but with ovarian cancer you have neither. I researched a lot and The ROCA test is the best screening out there right now.

“I have a partner but no children yet, the time hasn’t been right until now. That’s why I’m doing the ROCA– I’m 38, I could have risk reducing surgery but I want to have children first. The only way to be as proactive as possible is to have the test. If I go every four months, as long as the next one is normal, I know I’m ok. I know I’ll have to have surgery within the next four years but this gives me peace of mind for the time being.”

Over 35,000 women from London took part in the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS), which involved a total of 200,000 women over 15 years, and sister trial UK Familial Ovarian Cancer Screening Study (UKFOCSS), with 4,500 women over five years.

Nearly 17,000 women attended The Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead and 20,000 Bart’s in Smithfield for UKCTOCS. Four London hospitals participated in UKFOCSS: Bart’s; Guy’s and St Thomas’ (Southwark); Hammersmith Hospital and the Kennedy Galton Centre in Harrow.

Consultant gynaecologist Adam Rosenthal was the London lead on UKFOCSS and is now one of the first consultants in the country to be offering ROCA, from his Harley Street clinic. He said: “If women are going to be screened they should be screened by The ROCA® Test. The trial has shown that The ROCA® Test is good at detecting cancer before it causes symptoms.”

Pam Kieser, 76, had no symptoms when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She credits the ROCA screening she was receiving as a volunteer on the UKCTOCS trial with saving her life. She said, “Without the screening I would never have known I had cancer. I had no symptoms whatsoever.“I would definitely tell women to have the test, 100 per cent, because it saved my life! You can’t get better than that!”

Because she was diagnosed early, before the cancer had spread, surgeons were able to remove the entirety of the malignant tumour on her ovary. Follow up ROCA tests since the operation have shown she remains cancer-free.

Professor Ian Jacobs, who led UKCTOCS, said: “If women are going to have screening the balance of evidence suggests they should use The ROCA® Test. It will pick up more women with ovarian cancer than existing methods, will pick them up earlier and, when used with ultrasound, avoid more false positives.”

The ROCA® Test costs £125 a year for the first screen and any follow up ROCA Tests if the result is outside the normal range. The test is done by a consultant, who will also charge a fee. For high risk women the yearly package is £345 and includes
three tests per year plus follow up tests.

To find out more visit www.therocatest.co.uk.

November 5, 2015