Research and Technology

20.05.20

Researchers discover new endometrial cancer detection method

Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Uniersity of Manchester and the Federal University of Rio Grande de Norte (UFRN) have confirmed a new non-invasive test which can be used to help with early detection of endometrial cancer and those likely to be at-risk patients.

The study, the largest of its kind, was carried out in collaboration with clinicians from NHS trusts across Manchester, Lancashire and London and saw their results published in the journal Cancers.

Providing an inexpensive tool for diagnosing endometrial cancer in patients, and its common precursor atypical hyperplasia, the test could be used in a clinical setting and produce almost instantaneous results for women who are at risk of developing or presenting signs of endometrial cancer.

Endometrial cancer is currently the sixth most common cancer in women, with rising incidences across the world. Equally, current methods for diagnosis and screening are invasive, expensive or of moderate diagnostic accuracy, which can limit their clinical utility.

The newly-confirmed test utilises blood spectroscopy, a technique which uses light to determine the molecular composition of a sample, to allow researchers to analyse blood plasma samples. Doing so, they are able to test against a characteristic biological ‘fingerprint’ which was generated during the study, indicative of specific proteins, lipids and other biomolecules that confirmed whether or not the patients were presenting signs of endometrial cancer or its precursor atypical hyperplasia.

The researchers found the blood-based infrared spectroscopy test has the potential to detect endometrial cancer with 83% accuracy. This accuracy was higher 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 a 90% overall accuracy.

READ MORE: Health secretary Matt Hancock reveals framework for improving cancer care

READ MORE: Nearly half of cancer sufferers are diagnosed too late – Cancer Research UK

Dr Maria Paraskevaidi, Lead Investigator of the study and Research Associate at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Imperial College London said: “Despite the rising incidence of endometrial cancer throughout the world, there have been few advances made in improving diagnosis and prognosis of this disease.

“Our research signals an important step forward for patients, clinicians and the research community, and has the potential to be developed into a simple, low-cost and instantaneous test for endometrial cancer in the future.”

Professor Emma Crosbie, Professor in Gynaecological Oncology at the University of Manchester added: “This research is an exciting development in diagnosing endometrial cancer. Current diagnostic tests rely upon intimate and expensive, labour intensive techniques with moderate accuracy that are unpleasant for women, so we’re excited about the prospect of this test being used to improve early diagnosis and fast track women for treatment.”

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