OVA1 Blood Test Detects Ovarian Cancer In Women With A Known Ovarian Mass More Accurately Than CA-125

A study published online in Obstetrics & Gynecology reports that the OVA1 blood test detects ovarian cancer in women with a previously discovered ovarian mass more accurately than the CA-125 blood test. The study also considers OVA1’s place in future surgical referral guidelines.

A study published online ahead of print in the June 2011 edition of Obstetrics & Gynecology demonstrated that American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) guidelines for determining the likelihood that an ovarian mass is cancerous prior to surgery would accurately identify more women with ovarian cancer if the OVA1 blood test were used in place of the currently recommended CA-125 (cancer antigen 125) blood test. The study builds on prior research that shows accurate assessment of an ovarian mass for cancer prior to surgery can affect both treatment decisions and health outcomes for women with ovarian cancer.

… When OVA1 was used in place of CA 125 as recommend in the [ACOG] guidelines, 94% of malignancies in women of all ages in the study were accurately detected compared to 77% with CA-125. In addition, OVA1 improved sensitivity in premenopausal women, accurately detecting 91% of women with ovarian cancer in fewer than 58% with CA125. … The study also showed that the OVA1 test was about two times more likely to incorrectly identify women as high risk for ovarian cancer when they were not (a “false positive“) as compared to the CA-125 test overall. … 

OVA1 is the first test cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for aiding in the pre-surgical evaluation of a woman’s ovarian mass for cancer. Vermillion, Inc., a molecular diagnostics company, developed OVA1, and Quest Diagnostics Incorporated, the world’s leading diagnostic testing company, offers OVA1 testing services in the United States and India. Quest Diagnostics and Vermillion both participated in the study and Vermillion also helped fund the study. Neither company had any involvement in the development of the manuscript.

Clinical practice guidelines recommend that women with ovarian cancer be under the care of a gynecologic oncologist, although only an estimated one-third of initial surgeries for ovarian cancer are performed by these specialists. ACOG guidelines for the management of ovarian masses recommend that physicians evaluate several factors, including menopausal status, imaging findings, family history, and CA 125 blood test levels, to divide women into low- and high-risk categories on which treatment plans, including surgical referral, are based.

The study evaluated the performance of the ACOG guidelines using the CA-125 test versus the OVA1 test in 516 women scheduled for surgery for an ovarian mass across a diverse group of primary and specialty care centers. When OVA1 was used in place of CA-125 as recommend in the guidelines, 94% of malignancies in women of all ages in the study were accurately detected compared to 77% with CA 125. In addition, OVA1 improved sensitivity in premenopausal women, accurately detecting 91% of women with ovarian cancer in fewer than 58% with CA-125.

Rachel Ware Miller, M.D., Assistant Professor, Gynecologic Oncology, Markey Cancer Center, University of Kentucky

“The high sensitivity in premenopausal women and early stage cancers is where CA-125 and the College guidelines have underperformed,” wrote investigator Rachel Ware Miller, M.D., assistant professor gynecologic oncology at the University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center, in the study. ” Identifying these patients for referral is valuable because many are not receiving appropriate surgical staging and treatment. An effective preoperative test, particularly for younger women and early-stage cancers, can have a favorable effect on women’s health as survival is better in these populations.”

OVA1 when used with the College guidelines was also effective at detecting advanced disease, when surgery and chemotherapy can “improve overall survival,” wrote Dr. Miller.

The study also showed that the OVA1 test was about two times more likely to incorrectly identify women as high risk for ovarian cancer when they were not (a “false positive“), as compared to the CA-125 test overall. However, as OVA1 is only indicated for women for whom surgery is already planned, a higher rate of false positives would increase the possibility that a woman’s surgery is performed by a gynecologic oncologist rather than a gynecologist or other non-specialist.

The study follows the March 2011 publication in Obstetrics & Gynecology, the official publication of ACOG, of an updated committee opinion, The Role Of The Obstetrician-Gynecologist In The Early Detection Of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer, by ACOG and Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO) that cited the FDA clearance of OVA1 (in 2009) and indicated that OVA1 “appears to improve the predictability of ovarian cancer in women with pelvic masses” and “may be useful for evaluating women with a pelvic mass.”

“Prior to OVA1’s clearance by the FDA, the only lab test physicians could use to assess the likelihood that an ovarian mass was malignant prior to surgery was CA-125, even though CA-125 is not indicated for this use and its performance is variable,” said Dr. Eric T. Fung, chief science officer, Vermillion, Inc. “These data should give physicians more confidence to refer women whose OVA1 test result indicates a high likelihood of cancer to a gynecologic oncologist for surgery.”

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths in women. Ovarian masses affect an estimated one million women and lead to as many 300,000 ovarian mass surgeries in the United States each year, according to an analysis by third parties on behalf of Quest Diagnostics.

About OVA1®

OVA1 is the first test cleared by FDA for aiding in the pre-surgical evaluation of a woman’s ovarian mass for cancer, and also is the first protein-based In Vitro Diagnostic Multi-Variate Index Assays (IVDMIA), a new class of state of the art software-based diagnostics. The test utilizes five well-established biomarkers — transthyretin (TT or prealbumin), apoolipoprotein A-1 (Apo A-1), beta 2-microglobulin (beta 2M), transferrin (Tfr) and cancer antigen 125 (CA-125 II) — and proprietary software to determine the likelihood of malignancy in women with ovarian mass for whom surgery is planned.

OVA1 is indicated for women who meet the following criteria: (i) over age 18, (ii) ovarian adnexal mass present for which surgery is planned, and (iii) not yet referred to an oncologist. It is an aid to further assess the likelihood that malignancy is present when the physician’s independent clinical and radiological evaluation does not indicate malignancy. The test should not be used without an independent clinical/radiological evaluation and is not intended to be a screening test or to determine whether a patient should proceed to surgery. Incorrect use of the OVA1 Test carries the risk of unnecessary testing, surgery, and/or delayed diagnosis.

About Quest Diagnostics

Quest Diagnostics is the world’s leading provider of diagnostic testing, information and services that patients and doctors need to make better healthcare decisions. The company offers the broadest access to diagnostic testing services through its network of laboratories and patient service centers, and provides interpretive consultation through its extensive medical and scientific staff. Quest Diagnostics is a pioneer in developing innovative diagnostic tests and advanced healthcare information technology solutions that help improve patient care. Additional company information is available at http://www.questdiagnostics.com/.

About Vermillion, Inc.

Vermillion, Inc. is dedicated to the development and commercialization of novel high-value diagnostic tests that help physicians diagnose, treat and improve outcomes for patients. Vermillion, along with its prestigious scientific collaborators, has diagnostic programs in oncology, cardiology and women’s health. Additional information about Vermillion can be found on the Web at http://www.vermillion.com/.

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Genetic Testing For Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancers Greatly Underutilized By High-Risk Women

A women’s lifetime breast cancer risk is approximately 13 percent, and her ovarian cancer risk is less than 2 percent.  But women with BRCA1 (BReast CAncer 1) or BRCA2 (BReast CAncer 2) gene mutations may be 3 to 7 times more likely to develop breast cancer, and 9 to 30 times more likely to develop ovarian cancer, respectively, than women who do not possess such mutations. A recent report, published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine on May 20, 2009, states that genetic testing of high-risk women for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers is greatly underutilized.

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Routine Screening for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Recommended By ACOG & SGO

Evaluating a patient’s risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome is an important first step in cancer prevention and early detection and should be a routine part of ob-gyn practice. Those who are likely to have the syndrome should be referred for further assessment to a clinician with expertise in genetics, according to a new Practice Bulletin jointly released today by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists [ACOG] and the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists [SGO]. The new document also provides information on how to counsel patients with hereditary risk in cancer prevention and how to perform surgical removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes in this population

“Routine Screening for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Recommended

Washington, DC — Evaluating a patient’s risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome is an important first step in cancer prevention and early detection and should be a routine part of ob-gyn practice. Those who are likely to have the syndrome should be referred for further assessment to a clinician with expertise in genetics, according to a new Practice Bulletin jointly released today by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists [ACOG] and the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists [SGO]. The new document also provides information on how to counsel patients with hereditary risk in cancer prevention and how to perform surgical removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes in this population.

Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome is an inherited cancer-susceptibility syndrome marked by multiple family members with breast cancer, ovarian cancer or both; the presence of both breast and ovarian cancer in a single individual; and early age of breast cancer onset.

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Karen Lu, M.D., Professor of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

‘The vast majority of families who have hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome carry an inherited mutation of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 tumor suppressor genes. Women in these families may have a higher risk of breast, ovarian, peritoneal, and fallopian tube cancers,’ said Karen Lu, MD, professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, who helped develop the ACOG Practice Bulletin. ‘Though having a BRCA gene mutation does not mean an individual will undoubtedly develop cancer, it is better to know sooner rather than later who may be at risk.’

Women with either BRCA mutation have a 65%-74% chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime. Ovarian cancer risk is increased by 39%-46% in women with a BRCA1 mutation and by 12-20% in women with a BRCA2 mutation. Approximately 1 in 300 to 1 in 800 individuals in the US are BRCA carriers. BRCA mutations may occur more frequently in some populations founded by small ancestral groups, such as Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews, French Canadians, and Icelanders. An estimated 1 in 40 Ashkenazi Jews has a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.

The new document addresses the ob-gyn’s role in identifying, managing, and counseling patients with an inherited cancer risk. The initial screening evaluation should include specific questions about personal and family history of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Because BRCA mutations can be passed down from both the father’s and mother’s side of the family, both sides of a woman’s family should be carefully examined. Obtaining a full family history may be impeded in women who were adopted, those from families that have multiple women who had a hysterectomy and oophorectomy at a young age, or those from families with few female relatives. The results of a general evaluation will help determine whether the patient would benefit from a more in-depth hereditary cancer risk assessment, which should be conducted by a health care provider with expertise in cancer genetics.

Further genetic risk assessment is recommended for women who have more than a 20%-25% chance of having an inherited predisposition to breast or ovarian cancer. These women include:

  • Women with a personal history of both breast cancer and ovarian cancer
  • Women with ovarian cancer and a close relative—defined as mother, sister, daughter, grandmother, granddaughter, aunt—with ovarian cancer, premenopausal breast cancer, or both
  • Women of Ashkenazi Jewish decent with breast cancer who were diagnosed at age 40 or younger or who have ovarian cancer
  • Women with breast cancer at 50 or younger and who have a close relative with ovarian cancer or male breast cancer at any age
  • Women with a close relative with a known BRCA mutation

Genetic risk assessment may also be appropriate for women with a 5%-10% chance of having hereditary risk, including:

  • Women with breast cancer by age 40
  • Women with ovarian cancer, primary peritoneal cancer, or fallopian tube cancer or high grade, serous histology at any age
  • Women with cancer in both breasts (particularly if the first cancer was diagnosed by age 50)
  • Women with breast cancer by age 50 and a close relative with breast cancer by age 50
  • Women with breast cancer at any age and two or more close relatives with breast cancer at any age (particularly if at least one case of breast cancer was diagnosed by age 50)
  • Unaffected women with a close relative that meets one of the previous criteria

Before testing, a genetic counselor can discuss the possible outcomes of testing; options for surveillance, chemoprevention, and risk-reducing surgery; cost and legal and insurance matters surrounding genetic tests and test results; and the psychologic and familial implications that may follow. The counselor can also provide written materials that women can share with family members who may also have an inherited risk.

Screening, Prevention, and Surgical Intervention

Those with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome can begin a screening and prevention plan based on individual risk factors and family history. Ovarian cancer screening approaches are currently limited. For women with a BRCA mutation, ACOG recommends periodic screening with CA 125 and transvaginal ultrasonography beginning between the ages of 30 and 35 years or 5-10 years earlier than the earliest age of first diagnosis of ovarian cancer in the family.

Risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy surgery—which removes both of the ovaries and fallopian tubes—can reduce the risk of ovarian and fallopian tube cancer by about 85% to 90% among BRCA carriers. Women who have BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations should be offered risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy by age 40 or when childbearing is complete. The ideal time for this surgery depends on the type of gene mutation.

‘In this population, risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy and pathology review must be extremely comprehensive to check for microscopic cancers in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and abdominal cavity,’ Dr. Lu said. According to the Practice Bulletin, all tissue from the ovaries and fallopian tubes should be removed, and a complete, serial sectioning that includes microscopic examination for occult cancer should be conducted. A thorough visualization of the peritoneal surfaces with pelvic washings should be performed. Any abnormal areas should undergo biopsy.

Strategies recommended to reduce breast cancer risk in women with a BRCA mutation include semiannual clinical breast examination; an annual mammogram and annual breast magnetic resonance imaging screening beginning at age 25 or sooner based on the earliest age onset in the family; chemoprevention therapy with tamoxifen; and bilateral mastectomy to remove both breasts, which reduces the risk of breast cancer by greater than 90%-95%.

Practice Bulletin #103 “Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome” is published in the April 2009 edition of Obstetrics & Gynecology.”

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About the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is the national medical organization representing over 53,000 members who provide health care for women.

About the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists

The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists is a national medical specialty organization of physician-surgeons who are trained in the comprehensive management of women with malignancies of the reproductive tract.  The purpose of the SGO is to improve the care of women with gynecologic cancers by encouraging research and disseminating knowledge to raise the standards of practice in the prevention and treatment of gynecologic malignancies, in cooperation with other organizations interested in women’s health care, oncology and related fields. This is reflected in the Society’s Mission statement to “promote and ensure the highest quality
of comprehensive clinical care through excellence in education and research in gynecologic cancers.”

Primary Source:  Routine Screening for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Recommended, News Release, American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, March 20, 2009.