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Colorado Researchers Hope To Develop Test To Earlier Detect Ovarian Cancer

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Researchers at the University of Colorado Cancer Center hope to someday have an early detection test for ovarian cancer. (credit: CBS)

Researchers at the University of Colorado Cancer Center hope to someday have an early detection test for ovarian cancer. (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4)- It’s a cancer that’s often caught too late: ovarian cancer. Now researchers in Colorado are hoping to save the lives of more women by developing a test to detect ovarian cancer in its early stage.

Health officials estimate there will be more than 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer this year. More than 15,000 women will die of the disease.

“It kind of changes your thinking quite a bit,” said ovarian cancer survivor Maggie Luck.

Right now there is no standard or routine involved in a screening for ovarian cancer. Research has begun at the University of Colorado Cancer Center to develop a test to find ovarian cancer when it can still be cured.

Luck is a runner. She first suspected a problem in 2008.

“I had stomach pains that are normal when you run but they didn’t go away,” said Luck.

She was devastated to learn it was stage 4 ovarian cancer.

“I had known three people who had had ovarian cancer and all three of those people were dead. So for me, I really did think it was a death sentence,” said Luck.

She was treated, went into remission, had a recurrence and is once again in remission.

“A lot of women who get ovarian cancer will die from that cancer,” said Gynecologic Oncologist Dr. Monique Spillman.

“A woman can go in and find a very small tumor with a mammogram. Unfortunately for ovarian cancer those types of tests don’t exist yet,” said Spillman.

At the University of Colorado Cancer Center, Spillman is hoping to develop a test for ovarian cancer based on a urine sample.

“With the hope of being able to detect ovarian cancer early,” said Spillman.

The research is preliminary but promising.

Luck is keeping her fingers crossed.

“Because if we catch this disease early it’s curable,” said Luck.

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