Researchers at University College London have discovered that regular blood tests could help detect twice as many cases of ovarian cancer as conventional methods of diagnosis, following a 14-year clinical trial.

As part of the trial, post-menopausal women were given annual blood tests. The blood tests were used to monitor CA125, a chemical released in high quantities by ovarian tumours. If levels of CA125 increased in a patient, the patient would be sent for further tests or scans, resulting in 86% of ovarian cancers being diagnosed at an earlier stage.

Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect as many symptoms, including bloating, abdominal pain and loss of appetite, can be associated with a number of other conditions.

Researchers from University College London, have warned that, while the results of the trial are promising for future screening of ovarian cancer, the true test of the trial’s success will be in whether the cancer is identified early enough to save lives.

Around 4,200 women die of ovarian cancer each year in the UK and around 7,100 women are diagnosed with the disease each year. Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer among women.

Jessica Wright, a clinical negligence solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Chelmsford office, said: “Ovarian cancer is notoriously difficult to diagnose which makes the findings of this trial very promising.

“Fewer than 50 percent of people diagnosed with ovarian cancer survive for five years due to its ‘silent’ symptoms and any screening technique which can help diagnose cancer at the earliest possible stage is welcome.

“While it is yet to be established how successful this method of screening may be in improving survival rates, we will monitor this development closely as something which could help support accurate and early diagnosis of ovarian cancer in thousands of women.”