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Pap Test Could Spot Some Ovarian Cancers, Study Finds
Date:1/9/2013

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- With no routine screening test currently available for uterine or ovarian cancer -- the latter of which is extremely lethal -- scientists have found promise in a new method that can detect both types using cervical fluid obtained during routine Pap tests.

A pilot study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins University's Kimmel Cancer Center, in Baltimore, reports that DNA analysis of cervical fluid detected 100 percent of uterine cancers and 41 percent of ovarian cancers in a small group of women, with no false-positive results.

"This initial proof-of-concept pilot study really laid the groundwork to move forward," said study author Dr. Luis Diaz, an associate professor of oncology. "So many [disease indicator] tests out there lead to ambiguous results, which lead to a lot of anxiety in patients and unnecessary diagnostic tests and costs. I think this test offers the possibility of not only being an effective cancer screening test, but also one we can do without increasing the cost of health care."

The study is published Jan. 9 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Since Pap tests were introduced in the 1940s, the incidence and death rate from cervical cancer -- the leading cause of cancer deaths among women a century ago -- have plummeted 75 percent, according to study background information. But deaths from ovarian and uterine cancers did not drop substantially in the same time period. More than 69,000 American women were diagnosed with these two gynecological cancers in 2012, with 15,000 expected to die of ovarian cancer and 8,000 of uterine (also called endometrial) cancer each year.

The new research relied on the so-called PapGene test, which sequences the genes of cancer-specific mutations involved in ovarian and endometrial cancers. "Simple anatomy" explains why cervical fluid may contain more cells s
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