Detection of endometrial cancer via molecular analysis of DNA collected with vaginal tampons

Jamie N. Bakkum-Gamez, Nicolas Wentzensen, Matthew J. Maurer, Kieran M. Hawthorne, Jesse S. Voss, Trynda N. Kroneman, Abimbola O. Famuyide, Amy C. Clayton, Kevin Carl Halling, Sarah E. Kerr, William A. Cliby, Sean C. Dowdy, Benjamin R. Kipp, Andrea Mariani, Ann L. Oberg, Karl C. Podratz, Viji Shridhar, Mark E. Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Objective. We demonstrate the feasibility of detecting EC by combining minimally-invasive specimen collection techniques with sensitive molecular testing. Methods. Prior to hysterectomy for EC or benign indications, women collected vaginal pool samples with intravaginal tampons and underwent endometrial brushing. Specimens underwent pyrosequencing for DNA methylation of genes reported to be hypermethylated in gynecologic cancers and recently identified markers discovered by profiling over 200 ECs. Methylation was evaluated individually across CpGs and averaged across genes. Differences between EC and benign endometrium (BE) were assessed using two-sample t-tests and area under the curve (AUC). Results. Thirty-eight ECs and 28 BEswere included. We evaluated 97 CpGswithin 12 genes, including previously reported markers (RASSF1, HSP2A, HOXA9, CDH13, HAAO, and GTF2A1) and those identified in discovery work (ASCL2, HTR1B, NPY, HS3ST2, MME, ADCYAP1, and additional CDH13 CpG sites). Mean methylation was higher in tampon specimens from EC v. BE for 9 of 12 genes (ADCYAP1, ASCL2, CDH13, HS3ST2, HTR1B, MME, HAAO, HOXA9, and RASSF1) (all p < 0.05). Among these genes, relative hypermethylation was observed in EC v. BE across CpGs. Endometrial brush and tampon results were similar. Within tampon specimens, AUC was highest for HTR1B (0.82), RASSF1 (0.75), and HOXA9 (0.74). This is the first report of HOXA9 hypermethylation in EC. Conclusion. DNA hypermethylation in EC tissues can also be identified in vaginal pool DNA collected via intravaginal tampon. Identification of additional EC biomarkers and refined collection methods are needed to develop an early detection tool for EC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-22
Number of pages9
JournalGynecologic oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • Early detection
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Methylation
  • Tampon
  • Tao brush

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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