Free Press Journal

Simple test can detect cervical cancer


Washington: Scientists have found that using the heat profile from a person’s blood, called a plasma thermogram, can indicate the presence or absence of cervical cancer and also predict the stage of the disease.

Researchers at the University of Louisville led by Nichola Garbett demonstrated that the plasma thermogram profile varies when a person has or does not have cervical cancer.

To generate a plasma thermogram, a blood plasma sample is “melted” producing a unique signature indicating a person’s health status.

This signature represents the major proteins in blood plasma, measured by Differential Scanning  Calorimetry (DSC).

Researchers believe that molecules associated with the presence of disease, called biomarkers, can affect the thermogram of someone with cervical disease.

They used mass spectrometry to show that biomarkers associated with cervical cancer existed in the plasma.

“The key is not the actual melting temperature of the thermogram, but the shape of the heat profile,” Garbett said.

“We have been able to establish thermograms for a number of diseases. Comparing blood samples of patients who are being screened or treated against those thermograms should enable us to better monitor patients as they are undergoing treatment and follow-up,” Garbett said.

Another researcher Brad Chaires noted that plasma thermograms have different patterns associated with different demographics, as well as for different diseases.

This results in a more thorough application of the test as a person’s thermogram can be compared to specific demographic reference profiles or, even better, to the person’s own profile.

Using a person’s unique thermogram would provide the most accurate application of the test which could be used as part of a personalised medicine approach.

Further clinical study could result in the plasma thermogram as a compliment test to the traditional screening method for cervical cancer, the Pap smear and would be less intrusive and more convenient for the patient, researchers said.

Additionally, because the plasma thermogram test could allow treatment effectiveness to be more easily monitored, treatment that was not working could be stopped sooner and replaced with more effective treatment.

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.