This Modified Pap Test Could Detect Two More Deadly Cancers

This Modified Pap Test Could Detect Two More Deadly Cancers

The researchers report that PapSEEK had extraordinary results with early detection of endometrial and ovarian cancer.

The Papanicolaou test or Pap smear, as it is more commonly referred to, is believed to be responsible for the 74 percent decrease in deaths caused by cervical cancer. The merit of this screening test can be even greater, according to a new study, which proposes that Pap test can be used for early detection of other gynecologic cancers.

The study was done by the Johns Hopkins University researchers, who modified the standard Pap test into a “liquid biopsy” aimed at detecting two deadly female cancers, endometrial and ovarian, in their early stages. The exam is not unlike the regular pap smear that’s available today: the main modification, as far as the patient is concerned, is that the gynecologist would be using a slightly longer brush that would allow them to collect the cells from the lining of the uterus and not only the cervix. After the procedure that they named PapSEEK, the harvested cells would then be genetically analyzed for the presence of cancer. The results so far? With the modified pap test, the researchers were able to identify 81 percent of endometrial cancers and 33 percent of ovarian cancers. When they combined a simple blood test with PapSEEK, the number of successfully identified ovarian cancers rose to 63 percent. These are remarkable results, especially if one considers that the cancers were detected in the earliest stages of the disease!

In case that the name PapSEEK sounds vaguely familiar, it might be because the same team of researchers made a stride in cancer screening when they presented their blood test for cancer detection earlier this year, aptly named CancerSEEK. They’ve also just published their findings on a urine test (UroSEEK) made to detect bladder cancers.

While these revolutionary tests are still in their trial stages and are not yet available to the public, it doesn’t take away from the fact that they have the potential to transform the way we screen for cancer. Simple, accessible, and, most importantly, accurate tests like these could be responsible for countless saved lives!

Photo credit: Iryna Inshyna/Shutterstock

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