Pap Smear May Reduce Need for Invasive Transvaginal Ultrasound in Cancer Detection
Hopkins: Ovarian, Endometrial Cancers May Only Require Pap Smear for Diagnosis
By: Vitamin Pete
A simple pap smear (easy for us guys to say) could begin to replace an extremely invasive procedure used in the detection of ovarian and endometrial cancers, scientists from Johns Hopkins have determined according to a study first reported on by Andrea K. Walker of the Baltimore Sun. However, when compared with one of the alternatives even most women should agree that the pap smear is by far the less invasive option.
The most common test for determining the presence of ovarian cysts, cancers and fertility problems is known as a trans-vaginal ultrasound. This is an extraordinarily invasive procedure in which an ultrasound device designed to “fit inside a woman’s vagina” is inserted inside, waved around a bit and then removed, often by male radiologists or with males present during the ultrasound.
This factor alone is suspected to serve as somewhat of a deterrent for women to even have the procedure performed, even when the consequence could lead to premature death as a result of a failure to detect the cancers at an early enough stage to actually combat them successfully.
According to the article, blood tests, trans-vaginal ultrasounds and biopsies used by some doctors to detect ovarian and endometrial cancers either aren’t accurate or have been deemed by many medical groups as more harmful than helpful to women.
According to one of the researchers involved with the study:
“Limited use of the test to detect the cancers could begin in the next three to five years if further study continues to show positive results… This is really something that can be done as part of routine medical care,” said Dr. Luis Diaz, a professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins and a lead researcher on the study.
Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, two of the conditions that may lead to increased risk of developing ovarian and endometrial cancers, have in fact been linked to insufficient vitamin D levels during pregnancy in other, unrelated studies. Whether or not the prevalence of these two types of cancers could be reduced with simple supplementation and/or sun exposure has yet to be determined definitively.