Urine testing might prove to be an alternative screening test for cervical cancer


Urine testing might prove to be an alternative screening test for cervical cancer Seattle -- A study involving 143 women from Senegal, West Africa has shown that a simple urine test might provide an alternative to Pap screening for cervical cancer. In most of the world, cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death among women. The routine way to screen for cervical cancer is through Pap screening and pelvic exams.

"More studies involving a much larger group of women need to be done, but we are hopeful about the potential of urine testing as a cost-effective and less-invasive way to screen for cervical cancer," says Dr. Nancy Kiviat, director of Pathology at Harborview Medical Center, a University of Washington Professor of Pathology, and principal investigator of the study.

Kiviat will present her findings October 18 at the American Association for Cancer Research Third Annual International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle. Her abstract is titled, "Promoter hypermethylation of tumor suppressor genes in urine from cervical cancer patients."

The study included urine testing of women from Senegal, West Africa. Urine samples were taken from 41 women with negative or low-grade lesions, 72 women with invasive cancer, and 30 women with high-grade lesions. Urine-based detection of abnormal methylation of three genes was used to identify women at risk of cervical cancer. In this limited sample, this approach provided a sensitivity of 53 percent for detection of CIN3/carcinoma in situ and invasive cervical cancer with a specificity of over 90 percent. Ongoing studies are examining the increase in sensitivity provided by the addition of other genes.

"The implications of having a urine-based approach to screen women with a high risk of cervical cancer is enormous," says Kiviat. "In developing countries where Pap screening has not been established due to a lack of infrastructure, a urine-based approach to testing could have a huge impact."

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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