The use of molecular biomarkers in minimally invasive sampling opens a promising perspective for the early detection of endometrial cancer. This is the conclusion reached by the members of Screenwide research group, formed by researchers from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO-Hospitalet).
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Endometrial cancer starts in the layer of cells that form the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium. It is a cancer of the womb or uterus.
Most uterine cancers start as endometrial cancer. In another type of cancer, uterine sarcoma, the malignancy starts in the muscles and tissues of the uterus. Endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma are usually treated differently.
Researchers at Mayo Clinic have shown that it is possible to detect endometrial cancer using tumor DNA picked up by ordinary tampons. The new approach specifically examines DNA samples from vaginal secretions for the presence of chemical "off" switches — known as methylation — that can disable genes that normally keep cancer in check.
The finding is a critical step toward a convenient and effective screening test for endometrial cancer, which is the most common gynecologic malignancy in the United States. The results are published in the journal Gynecologic Oncology.
Researchers have adapted the papanicolaou (Pap) smear test currently used to detect cervical cancer so that it can be used to screen women for endometrial and ovarian cancers.