The University of Manchester has announced that a simple new blood test could help quickly diagnose ovarian cancer, particularly in women aged below 50 years, according to research.

Health charity Wellbeing of Women funded the research, which was undertaken by the university along with the University of Birmingham and University of Exeter.

The blood test can be given by general practitioners (GPs) and helps to diagnose ovarian cancer more accurately.

In the study, researchers investigated whether the human epididymis protein 4 (HE4), a protein type present in the blood, could help identify ovarian cancer more precisely.

Furthermore, they studied if HE4 can save women from undergoing unnecessary invasive tests and procedures, such as biopsies and physical examinations.

For the study, blood samples collected from 1,229 patients for 12 months were tested for the protein and its diagnostic accuracy was investigated alone and along with a test for the CA125 protein.

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The researchers concluded that when analysed in combination with the existing CA125 test and within an algorithm, HE4 levels could improve ovarian cancer detection, particularly in women below the age of 50.

The University of Manchester General Practice academic clinical fellow Dr Garth Funston said: “While our results require validation in a much larger sample, these findings are extremely promising.

“We hope our research can contribute to a change in how quickly ovarian cancer is identified. This is especially exciting as there has been little progress over the years towards developing more accurate ovarian cancer testing approaches for use in primary care.”

HE4 was found to be a promising cancer biomarker in previous studies.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted approval for the use of HE4 to monitor remission.