Public Release: 

New test can help doctors choose best treatment for ovarian cancer

Imperial College London

Researchers have devised a new test to help doctors diagnose ovarian tumours and choose the most appropriate treatment.

Successful treatment depends in part on accurately identifying the type of tumour, but this can be difficult. As a result, many women with cancer are not sent to the right specialist surgeon, or those with a benign cyst may have a more serious operation than they need.

In a study published today in the British Medical Journal, an international team led by Imperial College London and KU Leuven, Belgium describe a new test, called ADNEX, which can discriminate between benign and malignant tumours, and identify different types of malignant tumour, with a high level of accuracy.

The test is based on the patient's clinical information, a simple tumour marker blood test and features that can be identified on an ultrasound scan. As well as identifying the type of tumour, the test expresses the confidence of the diagnosis as a percentage.

Doctors can use the test in a clinical database or by entering the patient's details into a smartphone app, which was demonstrated to gynaecologists at the International Society for Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology World Congress in Barcelona last month.. The authors of the study say doctors could start using ADNEX straight away.

Professor Tom Bourne, from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London, said: "It's very important to get the preoperative diagnosis right. If it isn't right, the patient might have a more extensive operation than they need, for example having an ovary removed unnecessarily.

"If a tumour is benign, a woman might not need any treatment at all. If it is malignant, you need to know what type of tumour it is to choose the best treatment and that treatment needs to be carried out by specialist gynaecological cancer surgeon"

"At the moment, the way we assess women with ovarian cysts for the presence of cancer and select treatment lacks accuracy. This new approach to classifying ovarian tumours can help doctors make the right management decisions, which will improve the outcome for women with cancer. It will also reduce the likelihood of women with all types of cysts having excessive or unnecessary treatment that may impact on their fertility"

The researchers developed the test using data from 3,506 patients from 10 European countries from 1999 to 2007, looking at which information available before the operation could be used to predict the diagnosis. They then tested the model on a further 2,403 patients between 2009 and 2012.

Studies have shown that ovarian cancer patients have a better chance of survival if they are referred to a specialised gynaecological cancer unit, but this only happens for a minority of women in Europe and the US at present.

Apart from the tumour type, the choice of treatment sometimes has to take into account implications for the woman's fertility.

Existing prediction models discriminate between benign and malignant tumours but lack accuracy and don't sub-classify malignant tumours. The ADNEX model can discriminate between benign, borderline, stage I invasive, stage II-IV invasive, and secondary metastatic tumours.


The study was funded by the Flemish Government: Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO), Flanders' Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT), iMinds and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Imperial Biomedical Research Centre.

For more information please contact:

Sam Wong
Research Media Officer
Imperial College London
Tel: +44(0)20 7594 2198
Out of hours duty press officer: +44(0)7803 886 248

Notes to editors:

1. Ben Van Calster et al. 'Evaluating the risk of ovarian cancer prior to surgery using the ADNEX risk model: diagnostic study to differentiate between benign, borderline, stage I invasive, advanced stage invasive, and secondary metastatic tumours.' BMJ 2014;349:g5920 doi: 10.1136/bmj.g5920

The url (after the embargo) will be

2. The ADNEX test is available online and in mobile apps at

3. About Imperial College London

Consistently rated amongst the world's best universities, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 14,000 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and business, delivering practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.

Since its foundation in 1907, Imperial's contributions to society have included the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the foundations of fibre optics. This commitment to the application of research for the benefit of all continues today, with current focuses including interdisciplinary collaborations to improve global health, tackle climate change, develop sustainable sources of energy and address security challenges.

In 2007, Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust formed the UK's first Academic Health Science Centre. This unique partnership aims to improve the quality of life of patients and populations by taking new discoveries and translating them into new therapies as quickly as possible.

4. About the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government's strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website (

5. About the International Society for Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology (ISUOG)

The International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology (ISUOG) is a membership organisation dedicated to ensuring access for health professionals to the highest quality education, training and research information so that ultimately, all women have access to competent ultrasound and that obstetric and gynecological conditions can be effectively diagnosed.

The IOTA working group evolved from collaboration amongst ISUOG members and has led to the publication of the IOTA rules classification in the Society's journal, Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The Adnex test was demonstrated to gynaecologist at ISUOG's recent World Congress in Barcelona (IOTA rules workshop: Monday15 September) a recording of which has been made freely available to support this press release for a limited time. Follow the link below to access from 08:00 on Thursday 16 October, or contact ISUOG's Communications Manager Matilda Sims at for more information.

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