Urine test for womb cancer in the works


Instead of an invasive and often painful procedure to screen for uterine or womb cancer, a urine test could be used in its place if it passes expanded clinical testing. — AFP

British scientists announced on Feb 12 (2021) that they had developed a test to detect womb cancer using urine samples.

This simple test could replace the painful and invasive procedure that is currently in use.

At present, clinicians diagnose the cancer by taking a biopsy – a process that requires a narrow telescope called a hysteroscope to examine the inside of the uterus and remove a sample of cells.

Nearly a third of women who undergo the procedure have the process repeated because of technical difficulties or intolerable pain, the research showed.

Thousands of women in the United Kingdom who do not have womb cancer also undergo the procedure, with huge financial implications for the country’s state-run National Health Service (NHS).

The study from Manchester University has developed a new detection tool that examines urine or vaginal samples that can be collected by women on their own at home.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, showed that analysis of the samples correctly diagnosed 91.7% of women with womb cancer.

The proportion of women without womb cancer who tested negative with the new tool was 88.9%, the study showed.

“Our results show that womb cancer cells can be detected in urine and vaginal samples using a microscope,” said Professor Emma Crosbie, who led the study.

“Women who test positive with this test could be referred for diagnostic investigations, while women who test negative are safely reassured without the need for unpleasant, invasive, anxiety-provoking and expensive procedures.”

The new tool was first tested on 103 women with known cancer and 113 with unexplained postmenopausal bleeding.

It could be brought into clinical practice once expanded clinical trials have concluded.

Womb cancer is the sixth most common cancer in women, with an estimated 382,000 new diagnoses and 89,900 deaths from the disease worldwide in 2018, the university said.

While most women receive early treatment after the onset of symptoms, which include bleeding after menopause, 20% of women who are diagnosed at an advanced stage have only a 15% chance of surviving beyond five years. – AFP Relaxnews

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