UA scientists design screening tool for ovarian cancer

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Ovarian cancer is known as the silent killer because early detection is key to survival rate, but often it can be nearly impossible to notice. According to the American Cancer Society, about 19,880 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year and 12,810 will die of the disease. Joining us today on Arizona Horizon to talk about a new screening device is Jennifer Barton, Ph.D., professor and director of the University of Arizona’s Bio5 Institute.

How does it start?

When ovarian cancer begins to grow, it starts in a woman’s fallopian tubes, which are the narrow ducts connecting the ovaries to the uterus. From there, it can spread to other parts of the body without causing any noticeable symptoms. The problem is with this type of disease is that it’s caught at a very late stage, that’s when it can become deadly to women.

New Technology

At the University of Arizona, a team of scientists is in the process of developing a screening tool that could help with detecting the disease earlier; a stage when the disease is at a much higher chance of survival — 93% of women who are diagnosed early will survive for at least five years. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently went on to approve a human pilot study for the device, which is happening now at UArizona’s Tucson campus.

Barton’s background

Barton is the director of UA’s Bio-5 institute. Here’s a look into Barton’s engineering background according to her biography.

Barton develops miniature endoscopes that combine multiple optical imaging techniques, particularly optical coherence tomography and fluorescence spectroscopy. She evaluates the suitability of these endoscopic techniques for detecting early cancer development in patients and pre-clinical models. Additionally, her research into light-tissue interaction and dynamic optical properties of blood laid the groundwork for a novel therapeutic laser to treat disorders of the skin’s blood vessels. She has published over 90 peer-reviewed journal papers in these research areas. She is a fellow of SPIE- the International Optics Society, and a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

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