A new study suggests tampons could help detect ovarian cancer and catch the cancer early enough to save thousands of women’s lives, WTVR reports.
“Gynecologic malignancies such as cervical cancer can be detected at early stages through regular pap smears,” UVA Cancer Center gynecologic oncologist Dr. Chip Landen Jr. told WTVR. “But similar screening is not available for ovarian cancer, which often presents in an advanced stage when the cancer has spread.”
In the study, 33 women inserted a tampon the night before their surgery for potential ovarian cancer.
Five of the women ended up having ovarian cancer and intact fallopian tubes, and of those five women, three had DNA from the tumor in the tampon.
While Landen admits the tests need improvement so that no woman with cancer is missed, the study’s results are promising.
“This is exciting proof that cancer cells can make it through the gynecologic tract and be detected in a noninvasive way with something as simple as a tampon,” Landen said.
Landen said talks were underway to open up a larger study to test the tampon-cancer connection on more women.
According to the American Cancer Society website, ovarian cancer accounts for about 3 percent of cancers among women, but it causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.