Sun, Apr 15, 2018 - Page 3 News List

TMU team devises molecular Pap smear

DETECTION:Taipei Medical University researchers found that having two of the three discovered genes on a person’s cervical scraping increases the cancer risk 236 times

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Medical University (TMU) researchers found three key genes that are associated with endometrial cancer and could be used to develop a molecular Pap smear genetic test with a more than 90 percent accuracy.

The university shared the discovery at this year’s TMU-UoN (University of Newcastle, Australia) Joint Symposium on Recent Advances in Women’s Health in Taipei on Friday and yesterday.

The incidence of endometrial cancer has been increasing in Taiwan, with about 1,300 new cases every year. It was included on a list last year of the 10 most common cancers that affect women.

However, no effective screening tests exist for women who are at risk of developing endometrial cancer, but show no symptoms.

About 40 percent of endometrial cancer patients are diagnosed at a late stage and the five-year survival rate is below 50 percent, said TMU Shuang Ho Hospital deputy superintendent Lai Hung-cheng (賴鴻政), who led the research team.

The team spent about three years analyzing the world’s largest endometrial cancer genetic database and discovered three key genes — BHLHE22, CD01, CELF4 — that are associated with the cancer and could be used as biomarkers.

They found that if any two of the three genes are found on a person’s cervical scraping, the risk of that person developing endometrial cancer is 236 times more than a normal person, Lai said adding that the research’s accuracy rate was about 95 percent.

Five medical centers have received approval to conduct clinical testing based on the results, and they plan to collect Pap smears from about 1,000 women over the age of 40 and who suffer from abnormal vaginal bleeding, he said.

The specimens would then undergo molecular genetic testing, and if the testing provided a positive result, the patient would be advised to get an endometrial biopsy or hysteroscopy for further diagnosis, Lai said.

He said if the molecular Pap smear genetic test proves to be effective, it could save about 80 percent of what is spent on endometrial cancer diagnosis in Taiwan, which is about NT$70 million (US$2.39 million) per year.

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