Blood Spectroscopy Could Detect Early Endometrial Cancer Diagnoses

July 30, 2020
Hayley Virgil

Blood spectroscopy testing could be a faster, more accurate, less-invasive, and more cost-effective method for testing and diagnosing women with the early stages of endometrial cancer.

Blood spectroscopy testing could be a faster, more accurate, less-invasive, and more cost-effective method for testing and diagnosing women with the early stages of endometrial cancer, according to recent research published in Cancers.1

Results showed that blood spectroscopy has an overall accuracy rate of 83% with early-stage endometrial cancer, with type I and II cancers being detected at an overall accuracy of 86% and atypical hyperplasia discovered at a 90% overall accuracy.

When examined with sensitivity and specificity rates, data showed that blood-based infrared spectroscopy has 87% sensitivity and 78% specificity in detecting endometrial cancer. Its accuracy is highest for Type I endometrial cancer and for atypical hyperplasia; the sensitivity rates are 91% and 100%, and the specificity rates are 81% and 88%, respectively.

“Despite the rising incidence of endometrial cancer throughout the world, there have been few advances made in improving diagnosis and prognosis of this disease,” lead investigator Maria Paraskevaidi, PhD, a research associate in the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Metabolism, Digestion, and Reproduction at Imperial College London, stated in a press release.2 “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.”

As the sixth most common cancer type in women—primarily impacting post-menopausal women over the age of 60—there is a need to move standard endometrial cancer testing past tried-and-true but costly and invasive methods.3 Endometrial biopsies, for example, generally cause discomfort for patients and are sometimes accompanied with local anesthetics, as opposed to the simple blood draw needed for spectroscopic testing.

Another prior study measured the diagnostic accuracy of endometrial biopsies through “pooled likelihood ratios for positive and negative test results” in a population of 1013 patients.4 Results found that posttest probability for patients testing positive was 81.7%, with further evaluation needed for patients experiencing abnormal uterine bleeding following a negative biopsy result. The turnaround time was 7 to 10 days for results.

Asymptomatic patients are also often overlooked when it comes to screening due to availability and costs.5 By comparison, blood spectroscopy yields results that are almost instantaneously and with higher accuracy, as well as significantly less discomfort for patients.

Utilizing light to analyze a blood sample’s molecular makeup, blood spectroscopy can be used to create a biometric fingerprint for patients, allowing specific lipids and proteins to be examined in order confirm signs of atypical hyperplasia or early-stage endometrial carcinoma.

In the study published in Cancers, investigators analyzed blood samples from 652 women: 242 were healthy controls, 342 patients were confirmed as positive for endometrial cancer, and 69 with atypical hyperplasia—a frequent precursor.2 The median ages ranged from 52 to 69 years.The study also took other comorbidities into consideration, including advanced age, obesity, and high blood pressure, though none were found to influence the spectral response.

“This research is an exciting development in diagnosing endometrial cancer,” Emma Crosbie, MD, professor in Gynaecological Oncology at the University of Manchester, stated in the press release. “Current diagnostic tests rely upon intimate and expensive, labor 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.”

References

  1. Paraskevaidi M, Morais CLM, Ashton KM, et al. Detecting endometrial cancer by blood spectroscopy: a diagnostic cross-sectional study. Cancers. 2020;12(5):1256. doi:10.3390/cancers12051256
  2. Researchers discover new method of detecting endometrial cancer. News release. The University of Manchester. Published May 19, 2020. Accessed July 30, 2020. https://bit.ly/3hPFKgJ.
  3. Key Statistics for Endometrial Cancer. American Cancer Society. Accessed May 29, 2020. Updated January 8, 2020. https://bit.ly/30ed4Iq.
  4. Clark TJ, Mann CH, Shah N, et al. Accuracy of outpatient endometrial biopsy in the diagnosis of endometrial cancer: a systematic quantitative review. BJOG. 2002;109(3):313‐321. doi:10.1111/j.1471-0528.2002.01088.x
  5. Paraskevaidi M, Morais CLM, Raglan O, et al. Spectroscopy of blood samples for the diagnosis of endometrial cancer and classification of its different subtypes. J Clin Oncol. 2017;35(suppl; abstr 5596). doi:10.1200/JCO.2017.35.15_suppl.5596

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