High-risk women in cancer study

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Early screening for ovarian cancer, which kills 4,000 women in the UK each year, is to be tested in a study by the Cancer Research Campaign, it was announced yesterday.

Less than a third of patients with ovarian cancer survive more than five years and early prevention and more effective treatments are urgently needed, the charity says in a new report.

More than 2,000 women at high risk of the disease because of their family history will be recruited by scientists from the Cancer Research Campaign and the Gynaecology Cancer Research Fund. In 5 per cent of ovarian cancer cases the victim has a genetic susceptibility to the disease which increases the risk by up to 40 times. Survival rates are increased dramatically with early treatment, but in the vast majority of cases the disease is only discovered at an advanced stage. Dr James Mackay, of the charity's human genetics research group in Cambridge, said: "No one has ever tried widespread screening on this high-risk population before and we are hopeful that it will save lives." Jeremy Laurance

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