"That's a HUGE deal," was my first thought when I heard the news that that there's a new test that can detect ovarian cancer early.
That's been the big problem so far because ovarian cancer can't usually be detected until it's too late (ovarian is a tenth as common as breast cancer, but it's three times more lethal).
So when researchers at Yale published a study this week that they've come up with a new test to detect this cancer early - and that they're 95% sure the test is right that you do have it and 99% sure if you don't - I thought it might be one of the biggest advances in women's health so far.
Except that you can't really get it yet. "It's very exciting, but it's not ready for prime time," said a sympathetic Dr. Sudhir Srivastava when I called the National Cancer Institute. He estimated that if all goes well, it could be an achingly long three or four years before this would get FDA approval for the general public. Why does it take so long? More tests need to be done in larger groups of people, and other tests need to show that this could save lives (sounds like a no-brainer that it would, but studies don't always turn out that way). Plus, there are a few other tests being developed that might turn out to be as effective or more.
There is, however, a loophole for super-anxious women: you might be able get the test if your doctor goes through its developers at Yale - but you have to be 40 or older, and you have to pay for it yourself. Plus, you have to be willing to accept the consequences of getting a new test that may or may not tell you everything you need to know.