U.S. scientists have developed a highly accurate test to detect markers of cervical cancer as well as determine the likelihood of developing the disease. The work of scientists at the University of California was published in the journal Genome Medicine.
The researchers studied the process of DNA methylation. This is a biological process that uses methyl groups (a special kind of molecule) to change the activity of a segment of DNA without changing its sequence. Analysis of this process can help detect the first signs of cancer development, the scientists believe.
They analyzed 1,254 cervical screening samples from women with cell changes as well as women with human papillomavirus but no changes who had them within four years of taking the samples. The test identified 55 percent of women with HPV who had cell changes within four years of the study.
According to the scientists, the new method works more effectively than current methods of detecting progressive cell changes.
In the future, the scientists plan to conduct additional studies to improve the test, which they say could also be used to detect breast and ovarian cancer.