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Pap smears could one day detect breast and ovarian cancers, too

Recent studies showed that the patterns of genetic changes in cervical cells could predict hormonally sensitive cancers such as ovarian and breast cancer. Getty Images

(Jocelyn Solis-Moreira/ Very Well Health) –– Mammograms are the gold standard for detecting breast cancer, but recent research suggests other screenings could one day simultaneously detect breast and other types of cancers.

In one study, researchers found that cells collected in pap smears—a routine procedure to test for cervical cancer—may also detect ovarian cancer.

 In a second study used, the researchers used those cervical cells to predict an individual’s risk of developing breast cancer in the future. Both studies were published in Nature Communications.

Having one test to screen for multiple cancers could potentially help detect some of the one-in-eight breast cancer cases that go undetected during mammography. (…)