Will a new test make finding ovarian cancer earlier easier? Elizabeth Tracey reports


Cells that can be found in a routine Pap smear may hold the key to detecting and diagnosing ovarian cancer much earlier than it is usually found, a new study reports. Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center director William Nelson says this is just the latest in a series of discoveries that may allow progress to be made against this deadly form of cancer.

Nelson: The whole world around ovarian cancer has changed dramatically over the last decade. The first major step has been to realize that this isn't a cancer of the ovary at all, in fact it's a cancer of the fallopian tube next to the ovary. How long in advance of an ovarian cancer being diagnosed could you potentially detect it at a pap smear? These folks had some 250 pap smears from women who were ultimately diagnosed with high grade ovarian cancer. They found that they could detect these abnormalities as much as nine years before the diagnosis.  :32

Nelson says this is possible because cells shed from the fallopian tubes make their way to the uterine cervix, where they can be detected, with cancerous cells have a distinct genetic signature. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.