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Biomarkers of Endometriosis

Biomarkers of Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of your uterus grows on other parts of your body. In particular, when you have endometriosis, endometrial-like tissue grows on other organs or structures (e.g., the abdomen, pelvis or even your chest); some people with endometriosis also have issues becoming pregnant.  Additionally, when this tissue develops in the wrong places, it can cause you to experience uncomfortable symptoms that can impact your daily life.

6-10% of women between 18 and 35 years of age suffer from endometriosis, therefore, early detection is crucial for effective management.

The cause of endometriosis is unknown, but the attendant pain is related to increased inflammation and often fibrosis (fibrous connective tissue as a reparative response to injury or damage) and adhesions (scar tissue). These sections of scar tissue can fuse your organs, creating connections between them that wouldn’t otherwise be present. This tissue is hormonally-sensitive and can become inflamed during your menstrual cycle, leading to discomfort and pain. Moreover, these areas of endometrial-like tissue can cause ovarian cysts, superficial lesions, and deeper nodules.

Endometriosis affects millions of women worldwide, yet diagnosing it remains a significant challenge; currently, ultrasound (a test that uses sound waves to make pictures from inside of the body) is used but a standard ultrasound won't confirm whether you have endometriosis. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field and radio waves to make images of the organs and tissues within the body. Moreover, an MRI conveys information about the location and size of endometriosis. However, some of the factors limiting MRI performance for the detection of deep pelvic endometriosis include the sensitivity of MRI, namely bowel peristalsis (muscle contractions that move food through the digestive tract).

Laparoscopic surgery (or laparoscopy) is also a diagnostic option insofar as the procedure facilitates additional evaluation of your abdomen in endeavoring to detect signs of endometriosis tissue. Laparoscopy is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure used to check the organs in the belly (abdomen) and evaluate a woman's pelvic organs. Laparoscopy uses a thin-lighted tube (a laparoscope) that has a video camera. A laparoscopy can provide information about the location, extent and size of the endometriosis growths. Your surgeon may take a tissue sample (a biopsy) for more testing; in select cases, a surgeon can often treat endometriosis during the laparoscopic procedure so that you may only necessitate one surgical procedure. Unfortunately, laparoscopy can lead to surgical morbidity.  

Endometriosis affects millions of women worldwide, yet diagnosing it remains a significant challenge.

Since 6-10% of women between 18 and 35 years of age suffering from this endometriosis, early detection is crucial for effective management. Therefore, the quest for non-invasive diagnostic tools has become a top priority in endometriosis research. Researchers are increasingly focusing on biomarkers (molecules or substances in the body that indicate the presence of a disease or condition) as a potential solution to this diagnostic dilemma. Identifying a reliable biomarker for endometriosis could revolutionize the diagnosis by enabling healthcare professionals to detect the condition using samples of a patient’s serum/plasma, urine, or endometrial tissue. However, researchers confront the daunting task of identifying a biomarker that is sensitive and specific enough to accurately detect endometriosis; additionally, the variability in biomarker levels among individuals further complicates the development of a reliable diagnostic tool.

Despite these challenges, ongoing research offers hope for the development of biomarkers capable of improving the diagnosis of endometriosis.

About Women’s Cancer Research Foundation:

The Women’s Cancer Research Foundation (WCRF) is one of the most active research organizations in the nation. We are dedicated to studying and evaluating novel treatments for women afflicted with breast, ovarian, endometrial, and cervical cancers. The WCRF persistently endeavors to make a difference in women’s lives by offering them hope, strength, and progress.

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