Harvard Women's Health Watch

Test for ovarian, endometrial cancers

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.

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