Pap smears can help reduce the incidence of cervical cancer. A new study shows that they can also be used to detect other gynecological cancers early. The tissue and fluid collected during the Pap smear can be genetically detected to detect endometrial and ovarian cancer. Researcher Dr. Amanda Fader said that if cancers are detected, thousands of lives can be saved each year by catching these cancers at an earlier and more treatable stage.
The main goal is to be able to detect these cancers through mutations in tumor genes, which are usually found in the blood or fluids collected from the cervix and vagina. If we can detect cancer in the early or early stages of cancer, not only is it possible to get more treatment, but it will also protect many women from having more fertility.
In a Pap smear, the doctor uses a spatula or brush to collect cells from the cervix, which are then sent to the laboratory for analysis.
The researchers developed a test protocol called PapSEEK to see if other samples collected during the pelvic exam can be used to detect endometrial cancer or ovarian cancer. PapSEEK can detect DNA mutations that have been identified as specific cancers, including 18 commonly mutated genes.
To see if the test worked, the researchers collected samples from 1,658 women, 656 of whom had endometrial or ovarian cancer, and 1,000 healthy women as a control group. Studies have shown that the PapSEEK test can accurately detect 81% of endometrial cancers and 33% of ovarian cancers. When the researchers used brushes to collect samples, accurate detection increased to 93% and 45%, respectively.
This is a very early preliminary result and looks promising, but there is still a long way to go to determine whether this is really useful.