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    Original Investigation
    July 1, 2020

    Detection of TP53 Clonal Variants in Papanicolaou Test Samples Collected up to 6 Years Prior to High-Grade Serous Epithelial Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis

    Author Affiliations
    • 1Department of Oncology, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Milan, Italy
    • 2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Università degli Studi Milano-Bicocca, San Gerardo Hospital, Monza, Italy
    • 3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Azienda Socio Sanitaria Territoriale -Monza, Desio Hospital, Desio, Italy
    • 4Department of Pathology, Università degli Studi Milano-Bicocca, San Gerardo Hospital, Monza, Italy
    JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(7):e207566. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.7566
    Key Points español 中文 (chinese)

    Question  Can clonal TP53 variants be detected in Papanicolaou tests performed several years before high-grade serous epithelial ovarian cancer (HGS-EOC) diagnosis?

    Findings  This cohort study including 17 patients with HGS-EOC found that in 11 patients, tumor-specific TP53 variants were detected in Papanicolaou tests performed up to 6 years before the diagnosis of HGS-EOC.

    Meaning  These findings suggest that very early diagnosis of HGS-EOC is potentially achievable and that further developments in highly sensitive molecular approaches could improve early diagnosis of HGS-EOC.


    Importance  The low 5-year survival rate of women with high-grade serous epithelial ovarian cancer (HGS-EOC) is related to its late diagnosis; thus, improvement in diagnosis constitutes a crucial step to increase the curability of this disease.

    Objective  To determine whether the presence of the clonal pathogenic TP53 variant detected in matched primary tumor biopsies can be identified in DNA purified from Papanicolaou test samples collected from women with HGS-EOC years before the diagnosis.

    Design, Setting, and Participants  This cohort study was conducted among a single-center cohort of women with histologically confirmed diagnosis of HGS-EOC recruited at San Gerardo Hospital, Monza, Italy, from October 15, 2015, to January 4, 2019. Serial dilutions of DNA derived from tumor samples and DNA extracted from healthy women’s Papanicolaou test samples were analyzed to define the sensitivity and specificity of droplet digital polymerase chain reaction assays designed to detect the TP53 variants identified in tumors. All available brush-based Papanicolaou test slides performed up to 6 years before diagnosis were investigated at the Mario Negri Institute, Milano, Italy. Data were analyzed from October 2018 to December 2019.

    Main Outcomes and Measures  The presence of tumor pathogenic TP53 variants was assessed by the droplet digital polymerase chain reaction approach in DNA purified from Papanicolaou test samples obtained from the same patients before diagnosis during cervical cancer screenings.

    Results  Among 17 included patients (median [interquartile range] age at diagnosis, 60 [53-69] years), Papanicolaou tests withdrawn before diagnosis presented tumor-matched TP53 variants in 11 patients (64%). In 2 patients for whom longitudinal Papanicolaou tests were available, including 1 patient with Papanicolaou tests from 25 and 49 months before diagnosis and 1 patient with Papanicolaou tests from 27 and 68 months before diagnosis, the TP53 clonal variant was detected at all time points.

    Conclusions and Relevance  These findings suggest that noninvasive early molecular diagnosis of HGS-EOC is potentially achievable through detection of TP53 clonal variants in the DNA purified from Papanicolaou tests performed during cervical cancer screening.