News / Health

Researchers Develop Pap-Smear Test to Detect Gynecologic Cancers

Gynecologists are getting a new way to spot problems when they perform Pap smears to check women for cervical cancer. (file photo)Gynecologists are getting a new way to spot problems when they perform Pap smears to check women for cervical cancer. (file photo)
x
Gynecologists are getting a new way to spot problems when they perform Pap smears to check women for cervical cancer. (file photo)
Gynecologists are getting a new way to spot problems when they perform Pap smears to check women for cervical cancer. (file photo)
Jessica Berman
The Pap smear, long the standard test for cancer of the cervix - the muscular opening of the uterus - is becoming a one-stop check-up for multiple cancers. Researchers have developed a combination Pap test that also screens for two other hard-to-spot and potentially deadly gynecological tumors.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, have developed a test that piggybacks on the widely used Papanicolaou or Pap smear test for cervical cancer, expanding it to also look for the genetic abnormalities associated with ovarian cancer and cancer of the endometrium, the lining of the uterus. In the United States, these two cancers are diagnosed in about 70,000 women every year, and the tumors kill about one third of them.

There currently are no screening tests for the two cancers. But researchers found that abnormal DNA is shed from endometrial and ovarian tumors and can be detected among healthy cells in fluid extracted from the cervix.    

Using genome-wide association studies, the Hopkins researchers identified 12 of the most common mutated genes in both cancers, incorporating a way to recognize them into the routine Pap smear.

Their new PapGene test was used to screen cervical cell samples from 24 women with endometrial cancer, detecting the disease with 100 percent accuracy. However, study co-author Isaac Kinde at Johns Hopkins' Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, said PapGene picked up only nine of 22 ovarian cancers in patients with the disease, a relatively low accuracy rate of just 41 percent.  

Kinde said ovarian cancer may be harder to detect than endometrial cancer because of where the ovaries are located.

“I think the most likely explanation for the result that we got is the fact that a cancer cell has to travel farther away from the ovaries to get to the cervix,” he said.

Kinde said researchers are working to make PapGene more sensitive in the detection of ovarian cancer. He said he would like to see a time when a simple Pap test is routinely used to screen for all three types of gynecologic cancer.

“That’s been the dream from the very beginning. You know that is the goal. From the perspective of the patient and from the gynecologist, nothing changes for them," he said. "It’s a routine Pap smear and it’s essentially just another box to check if you want to look for endometrial and ovarian cancers.”

An article on the development of the PapGene test for cervical, endometrial and ovarian cancer - by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and the University of Sao Paolo in Brazil - is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid