Advancements in ovarian cancer research are helping data scientists to more accurately study cancer patients. A team of researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston recently created a five-step algorithm to help identify epithelial ovarian cancer cases.

Unfortunately, the algorithm is not intended to detect ovarian cancer in patients like a screening test, said Amy Roskin, M.D., a board-certified OB-GYN and chief medical officer at Seven Starling, an online care center for postpartum mental health headquartered in New York City.

"The algorithm in the study is for identifying patients who were found to have incident ovarian cancer based on attributes of submitted claims data," Roskin said.

She explained that the researchers are using the algorithm for epidemiological purposes to differentiate incidence (new cases) versus prevalence (new and preexisting cases).

What does that mean? Let's take a step back to the beginning and dig into why clinicians did the research in the first place.

The background behind the study