Newswise — Atlantic Health System wants women in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania to know that they may be eligible to enroll in a landmark study that uses a simple blood test for the CA-125 protein to screen women who are at low risk for ovarian cancer. The purpose of the clinical trial is to help determine whether this test can catch ovarian cancer early in women who would not normally be screened for it. Atlantic Health System hospitals are the only centers in the New Jersey, metro New York and Pennsylvania to participate in the study, and have the third highest enrollment numbers in the nation.
“My mother died of ovarian cancer, and it is important for me to participate in this study to protect my health,” said Lee Radsch, of Chatham, N.J. “If there’s a way to contribute for the health of future generations, it’s also a good thing. Participating in this study is one of the easiest and most gratifying things that I can do.”
Ms. Radsch has taken part in the CA-125 clinical trial at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, N.J. since 2011, when Atlantic Health System signed on to the national early detection study. More than 1,100 women have enrolled in the study at Atlantic Health System hospitals.
Most ovarian cancer is detected too late, at stages 3 or 4, with a 75% chance of recurrence after treatment. The CA-125 blood test is currently only used in women who have had ovarian cancer or who already show symptoms. A high CA-125 marker may indicate the need for further testing, however, by that time it is often already late-stage cancer.
“Ovarian cancer accounts for more deaths than any other gynecologic cancer,” said Daniel Tobias, MD, medical director of gynecologic oncology for Atlantic Health System and local principal investigator (PI) for the CA-125 study. “If caught early, ovarian cancer has a 90% five-year survival rate, but most cancers aren’t detected early enough. We want to not just encourage women at low risk to participate in this study, but for all women, even those who may be at higher risk to speak with their ob/gyn about what types of testing might be appropriate for them.”
Study participants have their blood drawn once a year for at least three years, and answer a questionnaire. Depending on their level of CA-125, more frequent blood draws may be done and/or an ultrasound test may be given.
Among the risk factors for ovarian cancer are:
- a family history of breast or ovarian cancer;
- having certain cancer-related genes;
- a personal history of breast cancer, diagnosed at age 41 or older;
- Ashkenazi Jewish heritage;
- a history of infertility and/or the use of assistive reproductive technologies, such as IVF;
- a history of endometriosis;
- a history of hormone therapy used to treat menopause.
Women who wish to enroll in the CA-125 study may be eligible if they do not have risk factors such as those above and meet other criteria. Study participants must also be post-menopausal and between the ages of 50 and 74.
While the CA-125 study will yield important information about this test, and help save lives, it is also important for women to remember to get other vital cancer tests, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, according to recommended guidelines.
“We find it concerning that there has been a dramatic decrease in cancer screening and diagnostic testing across the country since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Eric Whitman, MD, medical director, Atlantic Health System Cancer Care. “Since the early months of the pandemic, diagnoses for cancer dropped more than 46%. These delays in identifying cancers will lead to many more diagnoses of less curable late-stage cancer. These delays are not necessary, given our current ability to safely conduct tests and provide cancer therapies in all Atlantic Health System facilities.”
The CA-125 study is sponsored by the University of Texas' MD Anderson Cancer Center, which developed this test. Collaborating sponsors include the National Cancer Institute and Golfers Against Cancer.
About Atlantic Health System Cancer Care
Atlantic Health System Cancer Care offers an unparalleled network of cancer specialists and resources for more than 70,500 patients annually through its flagship Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown and Overlook medical centers, as well as its comprehensive oncology programs at Chilton, Hackettstown and Newton medical centers. With more than 250 cancer specialists and medical professionals, all five hospitals and Atlantic Medical Group have been recognized nationally for their role in advancing the fight against cancer.
Atlantic Health System Cancer Care is the lead affiliate of Atlantic Health Cancer Consortium (AHCC) - the only New Jersey-based National Cancer Institute (NCI) Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). The NCORP develops and implements NCI cancer prevention, screening, care delivery, and treatment studies with leading healthcare systems across the state. Atlantic Health System Cancer Care is affiliated with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) of Phoenix, Arizona, and together they have created the Breakthrough Oncology Accelerator, a pioneering research and clinical collaboration designed to improve patient access to the most innovative and sophisticated therapies for cancer.
About Atlantic Health System
Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, setting standards for quality health care in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New York metropolitan area. Powered by a workforce of more than 17,000 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, the system offers more than 400 sites of care, including seven award-winning hospitals. Atlantic Medical Group, comprised of 1,000 physicians and advanced practice providers, represents one of the largest multi-specialty practices in New Jersey.