In the largest study of its kind, researchers confirmed that a new non-invasive test can be used for the early detection of endometrial cancer and high-risk patients.
The study, published in the journal Cancers, signals the next step forward in providing an affordable tool for diagnosing patients with endometrial cancer and its common precursor, atypical hyperplasia. When used in a clinical setting, the test can provide almost instant results in women at risk of developing or showing signs of endometrial cancer.
The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), the University of Manchester and the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in collaboration with clinicians from NHS Trusts in Manchester, Lancashire and London.
Using blood spectroscopy, a technique that uses light to determine the molecular composition of a sample, the researchers analyzed blood plasma samples from 652 women. In doing so, they created a characteristic biological “fingerprint” that points to specific proteins, lipids and other biomolecules that confirm whether or not the patients showed signs of endometrial cancer or its atypical precursor hyperplasia.
The researchers found that the blood-based infrared spectroscopy test has the potential to detect endometrial cancer with an accuracy of 83%. This accuracy was highest for type I endometrial cancer, the most common subtype. For atypical hyperplasia, a precancerous condition that affects the endometrial tissue and often leads to cancer, the test had an overall accuracy of 90%.
Endometrial cancer is currently the sixth most common cancer in women with an increasing incidence worldwide. Current approaches to the diagnosis and screening of endometrial cancer are invasive, expensive, or of poor diagnostic accuracy, which can limit their clinical utility.
In 2016, the NHS set an ambitious goal that the diagnosis should be made within 28 days of attending primary care. This study confirms the potential clinical application of an innovative, non-invasive method that could help achieve this goal and detect endometrial cancer early.
When used in a clinical setting, this test could also help relieve pressure on secondary care and ensure that only those at significant risk of disease are identified and referred for further invasive diagnostic testing.
Dr. Maria Paraskevaidi, lead researcher on the study and research fellow at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Imperial College London, said, “Despite the increasing incidence of endometrial cancer worldwide, little progress has been made in improving the diagnosis and prognosis of this disease.
“Our research is an important step forward for patients, clinicians, and the research community, and has the potential to become a simple, inexpensive, and immediate test for endometrial cancer in the future.”
Dr. Pierre Martin-Hirsch, Gynecological Cancer Surgery Consultant and Director of Research at Lancashire Teaching Hospital, stated, “This is a potential enabler for the early detection of endometrial cancer. I am proud of the accomplishments of this collaborative team. “
Professor Emma Crosbie, Professor of Gynecological Oncology at the University of Manchester added, “This research is an exciting development in the diagnosis of endometrial cancer. Current diagnostic tests are based on intimate and expensive, labor-intensive techniques with moderate accuracy that are uncomfortable for women. We are therefore pleased about the prospect that this test can be used to improve early detection and for the rapid treatment of women. “
Reference: Paraskevaidi, M., Morais, CL, Ashton, KM, Stringfellow, HF, Mcvey, RJ, Ryan, NA,. . . Crosbie, EJ (2020). Detection of endometrial cancer by blood spectroscopy: a cross-sectional diagnostic study. Cancer. doi: 10.2139 / ssrn.3559533
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