A study postulates vaginal self-sample and urine as applicable tools for endometrial cancer diagnosis and prognosis

  • Two studies led by IDIBELL, the Catalan Institute of Oncology and the Bellvitge Hospital show that DNA sequencing in these samples can detect endometrial cancer, which would avoid much more invasive and painful methods.
  • These new methods would also predict the prognosis and adjust treatment based on the molecular characteristics of the tumor and improve patient survival.
NP10 - L Costas_CCR - Imatge noti

Two studies led by the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) and the Bellvitge Hospital show that non-invasive samples such as urine, cytology, or a vaginal self-sample, through small tampon-like devices, would be applicable for endometrial cancer detection. This would be a reliable and easy-to-use tool that would predict the prognosis of each woman and adjust the treatment to her needs.

Endometrial is one of the most common cancers among women, affecting more than 400,000 women per year worldwide. Currently, diagnostic methods are invasive and painful, mostly through endometrial biopsies. With urine samples or vaginal self-samples, the same patients could take the sample without any harm.

Non-invasive methods could reduce the pressure of the health system, the specialist consultations and contribute to a faster diagnosis that improves patient survival. We must consider that a delay in diagnosis forces the use of more aggressive treatments and represents a worse prognosis“, says Dr. Laura Costas, principal investigator at IDIBELL and the Catalan Institute of Oncology, member of CIBERESP, and leader of the projects.


Non-invasive tests to better understand the original tumor

The two studies published in the scientific journals Clinical Cancer Research and eBioMedicine have had the participation of epidemiologists, gynecologists, pathologists, geneticists, and bioinformaticians from IDIBELL, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, and the Bellvitge University Hospital.

DNA samples from almost 160 women with endometrial cancer were analyzed and compared with the original tumor. Specifically, the 47 most commonly mutated genes in endometrial cancer were sequenced.

In 100% of the urine and 73% of the vaginal self-samples analyzed were detected the same mutations of the original tumor, which positions them as very promising non-invasive tests for the diagnosis and classification of endometrial cancer. The mutated gene that can be identified in non-invasive samples determines its behavior and, therefore, the prognosis of the disease. For this reason, knowing the molecular identity of each tumor is highly relevant for carrying out a more effective personalized therapy.



The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) is a biomedical research center created in 2004. It is participated by the Bellvitge University Hospital and the Viladecans Hospital of the Catalan Institute of Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Barcelona and the City Council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.

IDIBELL is a member of the Campus of International Excellence of the University of Barcelona HUBc and is part of the CERCA institution of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2009 it became one of the first five Spanish research centers accredited as a health research institute by the Carlos III Health Institute. In addition, it is part of the “HR Excellence in Research” program of the European Union and is a member of EATRIS and REGIC. Since 2018, IDIBELL has been an Accredited Center of the AECC Scientific Foundation (FCAECC).

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