Australian charity Cherish Women’s Cancer Foundation is launching a new mobile app designed to give women battling ovarian cancer more control over their disease by allowing them to monitor their tumor markers in real time.
Tumor markers are substances, like proteins, which the body produces in response to cancer growth. They are usually found in urine, blood, or body tissues, and elevated levels may be indicative of a cancer recurrence.
The app potentially could improve the lives of the approximately 1,500 Australian women diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year, said Andreas Obermair, MD, gynecological oncologist. Obermair believes the app can provide important reassurance to an anxious patient.
“Patients are extremely competitive and anxious when it comes to tumor markers. The first question that virtually every patient asks is ‘How’s my tumor marker?’ If we can give patients a sense of control of the tumor marker that would improve anxiety, it improves the quality of the conversation between the doctor and the patient,” Obermair said in a press release.
“The message that I get is that patients feel a sense of control, a sense of self-empowerment and also reassurance because markers do trend up and down,” he said. “If the marker is 13 and it was 10 the last time then the patient gets upset, but having the ability to scroll back to see that it was 16 maybe three months before provides reassurance. They can actually see that this slight up and down is perfectly normal,” she said.
The app also could potentially help foresee cancer re-occurrence, he added: “Sometimes when we detect a re-occurrence early we can treat it much better.”
The app is called CA-125 after the homonymous protein that is produced by ovarian cancer cells and released into the blood stream, where it can be measured. CA-125 is commonly used as a tumor marker because its levels are relatively easy to monitor before, after and during ovarian cancer treatments.
The CA-125 app also will be used to gather data that can be used by gynecological researchers. All proceeds from sales will go to the Cherish Women’s Cancer Foundation charity to support other research projects.