Study: Tampons May Help Doctors Detect Deadly Cancer

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In the future, doctors may be able to use a drugstore staple — tampons — to detect early-stage ovarian cancer in women at high risk for this deadly disease, a new study suggests.

Researchers conducting the study found tumor DNA in ordinary tampons that were placed in the vaginas of their ovarian cancer patients.

Their study shows that tampons could someday be used in detecting this cancer, but for now the detection rate is too low — at least in its current form — to be used in screening the general population. Another issue is that the DNA testing technology that these researchers employed is extremely expensive, making it impractical for more widespread use.

“It’s an important step toward the Holy Grail, but we’re certainly not there yet,” Landen told Live Science.

The study will be conducted again, in a larger group of women with ovarian masses, including some with early-stage ovarian cancer, Landen told Live Science. Meanwhile, he told the site that his colleagues at Johns Hopkins are “tinkering” with the DNA test to see if it can be made more sensitive.

According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 22,000 cases of ovarian cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2014, and 14,000 women will die from the disease this year.To date, there is not an easy way for doctors to detect ovarian cancer.