Johns Hopkins researchers use Pap tests to detect ovarian, endometrial cancers

Test has potential to pioneer genomic-based cancer screenings

Scientists at Johns Hopkins have developed a test to detect ovarian and endometrial cancers using cervical fluid obtained during routine Pap tests.

In a pilot study at the Kimmel Cancer Center, the "PapGene" test, which relies on genomic sequencing of cancer-specific mutations, accurately detected 100 percent (24 out of 24) endometrial cancers and 41 percent (nine out of 22) ovarian cancers. Results of the experiments were published in the Jan. 9 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Researchers said larger studies are needed before clinical implementation can begin, but added that the test has the potential to pioneer genomic-based cancer screening tests.

Luis Diaz, associate professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins, said that since the Pap test occasionally contains cells shed from the ovaries or endometrium, cancer cells arising from these organs are sometimes present in the fluid. The investigators' task was to use genomic sequencing to distinguish cancerous from normal DNA.

Diaz discusses the research in this podcast, courtesy of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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