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The Boston Globe

Science

Pap test could detect other cancers

WASHINGTON — For years, doctors have lamented that there’s no Pap test for deadly ovarian cancer. Wednesday, scientists reported a tantalizing hint that one day there might be.

Researchers are trying to retool the Pap, a test for cervical cancer, so that it could spot early signs of other gynecologic cancers, too. How? It turns out that cells can flake off of tumors in the ovaries or the lining of the uterus, and float down to rest in the cervix, where Pap tests are performed. These cells are too rare to recognize under the microscope. But researchers from Johns Hopkins University used some sophisticated DNA testing on the Pap samples to uncover gene mutations that show cancer is present.

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