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Medical professionals at the Mayo Clinic have made strides in detecting endometrial and ovarian cancers earlier, addressing the delay in diagnosis. They’ve developed self-administered swab tests for women to use at home, potentially enabling earlier detection and intervention, crucial as symptoms often manifest in advanced stages.

Endometrial and ovarian cancers lack standard screenings, contributing to rising endometrial cancer rates due to environmental factors, obesity, and diabetes. Endometrial cancer ranks sixth among women’s cancers globally, while ovarian cancer ranks eighth.

According to Walther-Antonio, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic, the research presented at the Mayo Clinic Individualizing Medicine Conference suggests that screening the microbiome early on could lead to better patient outcomes. Previous studies by the team identified 17 bacterial species linked to endometrial cancer, with Porphyromonas somerae being the most closely associated with both gynecologic cancers.

The gut microbiome houses a vast array of microorganisms, comprising fungi, bacteria, and viruses, numbering in the trillions. Numerous microbes play beneficial roles in the body, aiding in digestion and supporting general well-being. Conversely, some microorganisms are detrimental and have the potential to exacerbate health issues or indicate the onset of diseases.

Porphyromonas somerae involved in onset of endometrial cancer

The research focuses on identifying specific microbes that indicate potential endometrial and ovarian cancers, aiming to develop home swab kits for women to assess their cancer risk. Detecting these microbial signatures could enable early intervention by doctors before cancer develops.

Porphyromonas somerae, identified as a significant bacterial species, is hypothesized to play a role in causing endometrial cancer, supported by its ability to invade endometrial cells and alter their function, particularly in the presence of estrogen, a known risk factor for endometrial cancer.

Research on ovarian cancer has found a correlation between a group of microbes and women’s reproductive health. Changes in the distribution of these microbes were associated with treatment outcomes. While endometrial and ovarian cancer can affect any woman, Black women face a greater risk of severe cases due to factors like limited healthcare access. Symptoms are often misattributed, leading to higher mortality rates among Black women.