Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic malignancy in industrialized countries, and both its incidence and its associated mortality are increasing. The “liquid biopsy” is becoming an important transformative precision oncology tool, but barriers intrinsic to blood sampling have limited its use in early cancer detection. We hypothesized that using a more targeted sample for analysis-namely, a uterine lavage-should provide a more sensitive and specific diagnostic test for endometrial cancer. Using a custom 12-gene endometrial cancer panel, molecular analysis of uterine lavage fluid from an asymptomatic 67-yr-old female without histopathologic evidence of premalignant lesions or cancer in her uterine tissue revealed two oncogenic PTEN mutations. Ten months later, the patient returned with postmenopausal bleeding and a single microscopic focus of endometrial cancer. DNA isolated and sequenced from laser-capture microdissected tumor tissue revealed the same two PTEN mutations. These mutations were unlikely to occur by chance alone (P < 3 × 10 −7 ). This illustrative case provides the first demonstration that future, tumor-specific mutations can be identified in an asymptomatic individual without clinical or pathologic evidence of cancer by using already established sequencing technologies but targeted sampling methods. This finding provides the basis for new opportunities in early cancer screening, detection, and prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbera003269
JournalCold Spring Harbor molecular case studies
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Detection of endometrial precancer by a targeted gynecologic cancer liquid biopsy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this