Optical imaging falloposcope for ovarian cancer detection


Jennifer Barton, PhD
University of Arizona

Ovarian cancer is the most deadly female reproductive malignancy, largely due to the lack of early stage symptoms or effective screening measures. Those who receive the current screening tests: palpation, transvaginal ultrasound, and the CA-125 blood test, are no less likely to die of ovarian cancer. It has been suggested by recent research that much of the most lethal subtype, high grade serous ovarian cancer, which is responsible for 70% of the diagnoses, originates in the distal Fallopian tube and migrates to the ovarian epithelium. Therefore, a test that screens both the ovaries and Fallopian tubes in high risk women is needed. The group has developed a highly flexible, steerable, 0.7 mm diameter dual- modality endoscope small enough to be introduced transvaginally to screen for ovarian cancer. This endoscope uses optical techniques with sufficient resolution to detect subtle early changes (unlike MRI, CT, or ultrasound) and can localize the disease (unlike blood tests). The current prototype would be challenging to use by non-specialists, however. The group proposes to develop a second-generation falloposcope packaged for practical use. An everting balloon will gently open the Fallopian tube and guide the falloposcope down the center of the lumen, decreasing the chances of perforation or other injuries. By simplifying the delivery method we can expand the number of clinical locations to include smaller practices. Screening could then potentially be performed in primary care OB/GYN settings in addition to specialized centers, vastly increasing patient access to early diagnosis and treatment decision options.