Skip to content

Cancer Health Center

Pap Test to Detect Ovarian, Endometrial Cancers?

Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Jan. 9, 2013 -- A new test for ovarian and endometrial cancers looks at cervical fluid obtained during a routine Pap test to detect genetic mutations linked with the cancers.

Although the research is in early stages, the test did well in detecting these cancers, says researcher Yuxuan Wang, a graduate student at the Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics and Therapeutics at the Johns Hopkins University's Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore.

If ongoing research bears out, the new test could someday become a routine screening test, much like the Pap test is for cervical cancer, she says.

"This would not add anything to the current [Pap] procedure," Wang says. "All we do is take part of the sample for DNA testing.''

The cervical fluid collected during a Pap smear contains normal DNA and, if a person has cancer, DNA from those cancer cells.

The researchers used genomic sequencing to pick out the cancerous DNA from the normal DNA.

The study is published in Science Translational Medicine.

Problems in Detecting Ovarian, Endometrial Cancers

Widespread use of the Pap test has reduced deaths from cervical cancer and increased early detection. But finding reliable screening tests for ovarian and endometrial cancers has been elusive.

More than 69,000 U.S. women were expected to get a diagnosis of either ovarian or endometrial cancer in 2012.

If endometrial cancer is suspected, a doctor may order a transvaginal ultrasound. If ovarian cancer is suspected, a doctor may order a blood test that looks for CA-125, a protein found at high levels in some ovarian cancer patients.

Neither test is as reliable as a screening test, the researchers say. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American Cancer Society do not recommend general routine screening for endometrial or ovarian cancer.

Examining Pap Test Fluid

During a Pap test, cells collected from the cervix are examined for signs of cancer. The DNA in the Pap sample may also be examined for human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer.

The cervical fluid collected during the Pap test can also contain cells shed from the ovaries or the uterine lining (the endometrium).

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
A common one in both men and women.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
 
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Do you know the symptoms?
 
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
Blog
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
 
colorectal cancer treatment advances
Video
breast cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
prostate cancer overview
SLIDESHOW
lung cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
Actor Michael Douglas
Article