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

Lara Paracchini, Chiara Pesenti, Martina Delle Marchette, Luca Beltrame, Tommaso Bianchi, Tommaso Grassi, Alessandro Buda, Fabio Landoni, Lorenzo Ceppi, Cristina Bosetti, Mariachiara Paderno, Marco Adorni, Debora Vicini, Patrizia Perego, Biagio Eugenio Leone, Maurizio D'Incalci, Sergio Marchini, Robert Fruscio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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Among 17 included patients (median [interquartile range] age at diagnosis, 60 [53-69] years), Papanicolaou tests withdrawn before diagnosis presented tumor-matched TP53 variants in 11 patients (64%).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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e207566
JournalJAMA network open
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Carcinoma, Ovarian Epithelial/metabolism
  • Clone Cells/pathology
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous/metabolism
  • Early Detection of Cancer/methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening/methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms/metabolism
  • Papanicolaou Test/methods
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Time Factors
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53/analysis


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