Skip to main content
Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Assessment of Screening Modalities for Gynecologic Cancers

Currently, there are no convincing early detection approaches for endometrial and ovarian cancers. Although it is well established that some endometrial and ovarian tumors shed cytologically recognizable cells in routinely prepared Pap tests, it is clear that this approach rarely detects occult tumors. Accordingly, we need to develop strategies for collecting biological samples that have high patient acceptability, good sensitivity for detecting early disease, and excellent specificity.

DCEG investigators have been assessing the feasibility of using alternative sampling techniques in combination with molecular assays to detect endometrial and ovarian cancers. They are comparing two sampling techniques – one using a tampon, and the other using a sheathed endometrial brush (called a Tao brush), and are assessing the quality of DNA extracted from the different samplers. The investigators aim to study the association between methylation of somatic DNA for a selected marker panel and cancer status.

Testing began with a pilot study of 117 women aged 45 years and older with suspected endometrial cancer or ovarian cancer, and 53 age-matched controls without malignancy, conducted in collaboration with researchers at the Mayo Clinic. Several candidate methylation markers for endometrial cancer were successfully evaluated in tampon and Tao brush specimens collected from women with endometrial cancer.  

Investigators seek to replicate their findings in a larger study to evaluate biomarkers for endometrial cancer at the Mayo Clinic. Samples are being collected, using Tao brush and tampon, from over 800 women who present with increased risk of endometrial cancer. Women will be prospectively followed for endometrial hyperplasia and cancer endpoints.

View publications related to Assessment of Screening Modalities for Gynecologic Cancers.

For more information, contact Nicolas Wentzensen

Clinical Genetics Branch - Research Areas