A new screening test for endometrial and ovarian cancers detects genetic mutations in DNA from cervical fluid samples taken during routine Pap tests. Called PapSEEK and developed by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore, this test could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment for these gynecological cancers and better outcomes for patients.
Gynecological cancers cause approximately 25,000 deaths each year in the United States and are the third leading cause of cancer-related mortality, stated Nickolas Papadopoulos, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins, in a press release. The PapSEEK test targets two of the most common and most deadly gynecological cancers – ovarian cancer and cancer of the uterine lining – which are difficult to diagnose in early, more treatable, stages.
In a study involving 1,958 cervical fluid samples from 1,658 women, including 658 endometrial or ovarian cancer patients and 1,002 healthy controls, PapSEEK was nearly 99 percent specific for cancer. The test detected 81 percent of endometrial cancers, 78 percent of which were early-stage cancers, and 33 percent of ovarian cancers, 34 percent of which were early-stage cancers. This study was published in Science Translation Medicine.