Newcastle researchers have been awarded $595,000 by the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation to continue their work into early detection methods of the disease.

The team studied local women with a family history of the disease in order to identify a blood-based protein biomarker which could help GPs catch the cancer early.

The money will help the team launch a larger trial on 2000 women, half with ovarian cancer and half without, to validate the biomarker as a diagnostic tool.

Professor Pradeep Tanwar says the technology could turn the tide against the disease.

“Currently there’s no way you can predict who has ovarian cancer and who doesn’t,” Prof Tanwar said.

“And if you’re diagnosed early, you have a much better chance of surviving, otherwise 50 percent of women will die in five years.”

Ovarian cancer is currently considered the most lethal gynaecological cancer, mostly due to high rates of late diagnosis. 

It’s thought an accurate early detection test could save around 8000 Australian women over a decade.

Prof Tanwar says the project has already been underway for four years.

“This will fund the staff for the next three years to work on this project,” Prof Tanwar.

“It’s really good to carry on those staff who have been spending time – and it’s difficult time working on this project.” 

Prof Tanwar says the team are “extremely grateful” to receive the grant and keep working toward saving women’s lives.

“Every researcher from Australia is trying to get on of those grants, and naturally, they only award two or three every year,” Prof Tanwar said.

“Being able to get one of these to the Hunter, beating all the big city counterparts, is quite a huge achievement for our university.”