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Pap Test to Detect Ovarian, Endometrial Cancers?

Examining Pap Test Fluid continued...

For the endometrial samples and Pap tests, 100% matched, Wang says.

For the ovarian samples and Pap tests, they found 41% matched.

The researchers then looked at 14 Pap tests from women known to be cancer-free. "We found no cancer-specific mutations in the fluid," Wang says.

The cost of the test, Wang says, could be less than $100.

The research was funded by Swim Across America (a fund-raising organization for cancer research), the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and numerous other sources.

Several researchers on the study are co-founders of Inostics and Personal Genome Diagnostics, companies involved in DNA blood tests and genetic sequencing.

Several researchers serve on the companies' scientific advisory boards and own stock. The companies have licensed patent applications related to the tests from Johns Hopkins.

Perspective on Test for Ovarian, Endometrial Cancers

"Obviously it's at the early stages," says Michael H. Melner, PhD, scientific program director of molecular genetics and biochemistry in cancer for the American Cancer Society. He reviewed the findings for WebMD.

However, he says, the test ''shows a lot of potential."

In theory, Melner says, looking at genetic mutations known to be linked with certain cancers would be more accurate than looking at some other biological indicators.

Looking at such biomarkers to detect cancer is not foolproof. "We now know that certain of these biomarkers get released during inflammatory diseases that are not cancer," he says.

For instance, CA-125 can be found in high levels in cancer-free women with pelvic inflammatory disease.

Many researchers are working to develop genetic maps of certain cancers, Melner says. As they build these maps and reach agreement, he says, the hope is to detect the cancer in the very early stages.

Another plus of the PapGene test, he says, is that ''you are using samples that are already collected for another technique."

But he cautions that much more study is needed. "It is going to take some time," he says.

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