Menstruation may still be largely hidden away from the public despite its massive prevalence in that public/the lives of so many people with uteri, but tampons could be receiving their call to action. Gynecologist oncologist Jamie Bakkum-Gamez and her team of researchers at the Mayo Clinic are saying that endometrial cancer can be detected through DNA samples found on tampons, and that it could save lives when added to the various other ways (pap smears, mammograms, etc) used to screen for cancer.
According to Smithsonian Magazine there hasn’t really been an easy way as of yet to screen for endometrial cancer, despite the fact that it “accounts for six percent of all cancers among women.” And although they’re not there yet, Bakkum-Gamez and company are hoping for a future in which people can use their tampons to screen for it from their own homes.
A small study published in 2004 showed that DNA samples collected from tampons was excessively methylated or hyper-methylated in women with endometrial cancer compared to women without the disease. However, in the years since then little progress has been made in turning the approach into a practical screening test.
“No one really took that idea and ran with it,” says Dr. Bakkum-Gamez. “We wanted to take this initial study one step further, and use advances in technology to see if we could develop a better method of differentiating between cancerous and benign cells.”
The method still reportedly needs refining, but a clinical trial is soon underway, and hopefully we’ll eventually have a new widespread way for people with uteri to stay on top of their health and detect potentially life-threatening things early on.
P.S. I would apologize for using a bowtie-clad dude for this post but I couldn’t help myself once I saw that this image was titled “surprised man wearing suspenders with menstruation pad.” I hope you understand my plight. Most of the other options involved flowers and I just couldn’t do it.
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