ROCHESTER, Minn., Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are studying vaginal microbes in an effort to diagnose endometrial cancer in the early stages.
Doctors have struggled for years to pinpoint the causes of endometrial cancer, but researchers are now examining the role vaginal microbes play in the development of the disease.
"We set out to discover whether there is a microbiome component in the malignancy of tumors and if its appearance in patients diagnosed with the disease is distinguishable from that of patients without malignancy," Marina Walther-Antonio, Ph.D, lead author of the first-of-its kind study, said in a press release.
Researchers studied 31 white women undergoing hysterectomy. Ten were diagnosed with benign gynecologic condition, four were diagnosed with endometrial hyperplasia, and 17 were diagnosed with endometrial cancer. The diagnoses were made based on final surgical pathology after hysterectomy.
Results showed that the populations of microbes found in the reproductive tract shifted with the presence of cancer and hyperplasia, being distinct from the benign cases.
"These findings provide important insights into the etiology or manifestations of the disease with broad implications for biomarker developments in the early detection of, and screening for, endometrial cancer," Walther-Antonio said.
The next step for researchers is to examine if these results extend into ethnically diverse patient populations.
The study was published in Genome Medicine.