“A clever new test to measure a woman’s future cancer risk would be a game changer” – Miriam Stoppard

The impressive new tests from the UCL Institute of Women’s Health take a single sample during routine cervical exams and can detect or predict risk of four types of cancer: ovarian, breast, cervical and uterine cancer, reveals Dr. Miriam Stoppard

Vaginal swab, patient and nurse in clinic
The incredible research was conducted by more than 3,000 women

Stop cancer before it starts would be a game changer.

And researchers at University College London are hoping to do just that, with a clever new test that could measure a woman’s future cancer risk.

From a single sample taken during routine cervical cancer screening, it has been shown to detect or predict the risk of four types of cancer: ovarian, breast, cervical and uterine cancer.

In addition, it was able to identify almost a third more women at high risk breast cancer or ovarian cancer than current genetic tests.

The incredible research, involving 15 European centers and samples from more than 3,000 women, is led by Professor Martin Widschwendter of the UCL Institute of Women’s Health.

His team measured certain markers on the DNA of cervical cells (DNAm) and found that they indicate whether someone has breast or ovarian cancer.

A handy way to think of DNAm is our cells’ software, as it controls how they read and respond to instructions in our DNA – the hardware.

As people go through life, their lifestyle constantly updates the code of their software.

As a result, DNAm changes, sometimes for the worse, and predisposes to disease, including cancer.

These dangerous DNAm changes can occur years before cancer occurs and can be used to monitor a person’s risk over time.

The new WID test for determining the risk of cancer in women already exceeds current methods of determining breast cancer risk by 30% and ovarian cancer risk by more than 25%.

Soon we will also know how well it works in predicting uterine and cervical cancer.

Together, these four types of cancer account for more than half of all cancers in women in Europe.

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More than 250,000 European women and people with gynails are diagnosed with these diseases each year and nearly 45,000 die from them.

Not only would the test revolutionize cancer screening, it could also indicate the future risk of developing these four major cancers from a cervical sample.

Those found to be at high risk for any of the four cases could then be monitored regularly and undergo risk-reducing surgery, saving thousands from getting cancer every year.

Professor Widschwendter says: “The WID test looks for the traces on a woman’s DNA as she goes through life, recording which trace she is taking and whether she is heading towards cancer.

“The WID test will revolutionize screening and enable a more personalized approach to cancer prevention and detection, where women are screened, monitored or treated based on their individual and changing risk.”


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