A New Tool Uses Ultrasound to Determine If It

is Malignant or Benign

Women diagnosed with suspected ovarian cancer may no longer have to undergo surgery only to find out that the tumor is benign.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have developed a new ovarian-tumor index that should help doctors determine whether a tumor is malignant or benign.

Currently, doctors have a difficult time diagnosing ovarian cancer and often recommend aggressive treatment, just in case. This means that many women who have ovarian cancer confirmed through ultrasound undergo major surgery to find their tumors were benign and the surgery was unnecessary.

The new tool was developed in a study of 304 women. It uses ultrasound readings to judge the likelihood of a patient having a cancerous or noncancerous tumor based on a number of factors, including patient age, and the tumor's appearance, size and blood flow.

"The words 'ovarian cancer' are probably the most terrifying to women. And that's because it's so hard to diagnose and, thus, so deadly," says Dr. David Scott Miller, a researcher and author of the report that appears in the December issue of Cancer. "It may be possible that if the index indicates a mass is benign, (the patient) may be able to have a far less traumatic procedure, such as a laparoscopy."

Adds co-author Dr. Diane Twickler: "The index is a valuable way of interpreting a complex set of ultrasound findings in a reasonable fashion that will help the referring physician plan further testing, surgery or other clinical management."

From On Health Daily Briefing, December 1999

Ann's NOTE: This article did not say at what stages this diagnostic method would be useful. To be followed up.

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