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Widening the Horizon of a Pap Test

Update Date: Jan 14, 2013 01:37 AM EST

Who thought a routine Pap smear can do anything apart from detecting a cervical cancer? However, the U.S researchers have detected a possibility to diagnose ovarian and endometrial cancer, all using the Pap smear!

The Papanicolaou test or commonly known as the Pap test has successfully been used on a regular basis to reduce the rate of cervical cancer in women. In this method, cells from the cervix are tested for the possibility of them being cancerous.

However, while broadening the tests, the scientists found that, occasionally, the Pap smears contain remnants of ovarian or endometrial cells. If successfully tested they can give us early warning signs of these cancers. As of now there are no methods to detect these two types of cancer in their early stages.

This new identification method is developed by the researchers at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at John Hopkins in Baltimore and uses the fluid taken from the cervix during a Pap test. This fluid is then subjected to gene sequencing technology to identify the genetic mutations specific to Ovarian and endometrial cancers.

In a Pilot study 46 women were taken, 24 of them had been previously diagnosed with endometrial cancer and 22 were diagnosed with Ovarian cancer. The revised Pap test was able to identify 100 percent of endometrial cancer. The success rate of ovarian cancer was 9 out of 22 (41 percent).

"Our Genomic sequencing approach may offer the potential to detect these cancer cells in a scalable and cost-effective way," was what Luis Diaz, M.D., associate professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins said in a press release.

Though it might take some years for the procedures to be developed to perfection, still, considering the fact that there is no way of detecting these two cancers unless they become fatal, it might turn out to be a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

The highlight of this new research is that the patients will feel no difference as the Pap test conducted will be a routine one. The difference will be in the way it is analyzed in the lab.

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