Regular blood tests can provide early detection of 86% of ovarian cancers. These are the first results of a 14-year trial of more than 46,000 women.

The blood tests can pick up the tumours before the point at which women would normally be diagnosed, according to the trial.

Ovarian cancer is usually difficult to detect as symptoms, including abdominal pain, persistent bloating and difficulty eating, are common in other conditions.

The UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening performed annual blood tests on post-menopausal women across 13 NHS Trusts.

Ovarian tumours give out high levels of a chemical called CA125, which is already used as a test if patients have symptoms.

The trial tracked changes in the levels of CA125 over time and if levels became elevated then the women were sent for further tests including an ultrasound scan.

The trial results, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, could lead to a national screening programme.

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