Could cells taken from a Pap test offer the first-ever early screening method?
Every year, nearly 70,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian and endometrial cancers, and about one-third of them die. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have developed a test they say can detect ovarian and endometrial cancers from fluid taken during a routine Pap test. The new test—called PapGene—analyzes DNA from ovarian and endometrial cancer cells that have been shed into the cervical fluid.
In a study published in the January 9 issue of Science Translational Medicine, the PapGene test accurately detected all of 24 (100%) endometrial cancers and nine out of 22 (41%) ovarian cancers. The authors of the study called their test a “promising step” toward a broad screening tool for ovarian and endometrial cancers. However, the research is still very preliminary.
The PapGene test needs to be evaluated in larger groups of women and fine-tuned for accuracy before it can be widely used as a diagnostic tool. Until ovarian and endometrial screening tests become available, women need to know their cancer risks and call their doctor if they experience symptoms such as pelvic pain or bloating, abnormal vaginal bleeding, and unusual fatigue.