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First ever NHS ovarian cancer early detection pilot announced

23 August 2018

Ovarian cancer support

Supporting research to help shape ovarian cancer screening services

Ovarian Cancer Action is pleased to support the ALDO project; a pilot launched in August 2018 by The UCLH Cancer Collaborative, which aims to establish whether ovarian cancer screening can be feasible and cost-effective on the NHS for women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations

Women in the general population have around a 2% risk of developing ovarian cancer in their life, whereas for a woman with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, this risk is increased to up to 60%. 

At the moment there is no screening programme available for any women, and the most effective way for high-risk women to reduce their risk is to have their ovaries and fallopian tubes removed between the ages of 35 and 45 (the recommended age depends on their particular mutation). This puts a woman into immediate menopause, which can have long-term health implications, including osteoporosis and heart disease. Women are therefore faced with a difficult decision to balance these risks and choose the timing of their surgery. 

Now closed to new participants, the ALDO project, which stands for “Avoiding Late Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer”, recruited women across the UK and will use Abcodia’s ROCA test every 4 months to detect ovarian cancer amongst BRCA mutation carriers before they have any symptoms. This involves a simple blood test which can be done by their own local GP team and uses an algorithm to assess changes in the level of a protein called CA125 in the blood. If required, women will then be called to a participating centre for any follow-up investigations. 

Mr Adam Rosenthal, Consultant Gynaecologist and Clinical Director for the ALDO project explains: “This pilot project will be the first time that an ovarian cancer surveillance service is piloted in the NHS, and the hope is that this will become standard practice for a woman with a faulty BRCA gene in the not too distant future. 

The ALDO project is the logical extension to previous clinical trials that evaluated the ROCA Test for detecting ovarian cancer in BRCA mutation carriers. The UK Familial Ovarian Cancer Screening Study (UKFOCCS) found that the ROCA test detected nine out of ten cancers, of which around two-thirds were at less advanced stages. We want this service to be available to all women with a faulty BRCA gene who are not yet ready to have surgery to remove their ovaries and fallopian tubes. The surveillance should mean they are less likely to be diagnosed with an advanced ovarian cancer.”

Jo Stanford, Cancer Prevention Officer for Ovarian Cancer Action says, “As a BRCA+ woman myself, I understand the anxiety that exists around ovarian cancer risk and how important it is that the BRCA community have access to reliable screening on the NHS in the near future. As a charity Ovarian Cancer Action is hopeful that this pilot will provide the potential for future screening for our supporters.”

How can I get involved?

The pilot is now closed to new participants. 

To find out more about the study, visit the UCLH website here.

For more information about BRCA mutations visit our BRCA Hub

The ALDO project has been approved by a Research Ethics Committee (West Midlands South Birmingham Research Ethics Committee reference 18/WM/014418/WM/014)