How a simple tampon just might save your life

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Could tampons help detect ovarian cancer? One doctor says it’s entirely possible.

UVA Cancer Center Gynecologic  Oncologist Dr. Chip Landen Jr. released findings of a medical study that indicates tampons may be beneficial to doctors who are studying ovarian cancer.

“Gynecologic malignancies such as cervical cancer can be detected at early stages through regular pap smears,” Landen said in an interview with WTVR-TV. “But similar screening is not available for ovarian cancer, which often presents in an advanced stage when the cancer has spread.”

He hopes this can change. Landen cites a study in which 33 women agreed to insert a tampon the night before undergoing surgery for potential ovarian cancer. Of those women, five were found to have ovarian cancer. On the tampons of three of those women, doctors discovered DNA from their tumors. That’s 60 percent.

“While more research is needed to improve the sensitivity of the test, the fact that in some cases tumor DNA was found in the vaginal canal is promising,” Landen said.

He added that it is “exciting proof” that cancer cells can be detected in a noninvasive way through “something as simple as a tampon.”

Landen said a larger study to test the tampon theory is being discussed.