Biomarkers Are a Key to Endometriosis Diagnosis and Treatment, Study Contends

Biomarkers Are a Key to Endometriosis Diagnosis and Treatment, Study Contends

Identifying biomarkers of endometriosis development and progression could be the breakthrough that doctors need for the early diagnosis and treatment of the disease, according to a study.

Dr. Hugh S. Taylor of the Yale School of Medicine discussed possible biomarkers for diagnosing, managing and treating the disease at the World Congress on Endometriosis in Vancouver, Canada, May 17-20. Two possibilities he discussed were CA-125 and miRNAs.

“With diagnostic biomarkers for endometriosis, the estimated one in 10 women affected by the disease could receive a correct diagnosis upon their first appointments with physicians,” Taylor said in a press release. In addition to being the chair of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine, he is founder and chief medical officer of Dot Laboratories.

Endometriosis is a chronic systemic disease, or one that affects either a number of organs and tissues or the body as a whole. The hallmarks of the hormone-driven condition include progressive pelvic pain and severe menstrual cramps, or dysmenorrhea.

Six to 10 percent of American women of child-bearing age have the illness, according to estimates. Moreover, researchers say endometriosis is the potential cause of pelvic pain and infertility in 35 to 50 percent of women worldwide who suffer from these symptoms.

The condition can have a huge impact on a woman’s quality of life and can be a financial burden. In fact, the economic impact of the disease can equate to that of chronic diseases, such as diabetes. Experts estimated the diagnosis, treatment and quality of life-related costs of endometriosis at $69 billion in the United States in 2009.

The mechanisms underlying the disease are not yet clear, although several studies have suggested that inflammation and cancer-associated pathways are involved.

A key problem is misdiagnosis of the condition. This occurs in 65 percent of women who have it, according to a study in Human Reproduction. An even grimmer statistic is that 46 percent of women with the condition had to be evaluated by more than five physicians before obtaining a correct diagnosis. This has led to American women waiting an average of 6.7 to 11 years to begin treatment.

Lack of diagnostic tools is a major reason that identifying the disease is difficult and takes so long. Biomarkers for it could lead to earlier diagnosis. They could also help doctors keep tabs on women with no symptoms of endometriosis but who are at risk of developing it.

Researchers hope that identifying new biomarkers will not only help shorten the time to diagnosis, but also pave the way to new therapies.

5 comments

  1. Kelly says:

    What good is it to have biomarkers to diagnose a woman with endometriosis if doctors are not willing to accept that such a painful condition really exsist or even be willing to do the often needed surgery. Most doctors are just worried about how deep their pockets run and malpractice. Too often women are told that their real problem is depression not the illness itself. Try to explain to your doctor that you are unable to sleep at night due to the intense pain and the doctor begins to ask you questions to screen for depression. One is often asked questions such as, “do you lack interest in things that you once had an interest in.” Well, obviously if someone is in a great deal of pain, that person will not have an interest in doing much of anything. Next, they diagnose you as having depression and then begin to write out a prescription for an anti-depressive medication. Now that just took so much thought hah! Good luck to anyone that has endometriosis, I pity you having to be at the mercy of doctors.

  2. Lonnie says:

    I agree partly with Kelly. I had doctors which believed me, thank goodness, but I had to switch insurance to try and save some money. Now only one of the 5 doctors I’ve seen really believes me. Plus they have thrown out my surgical diagnosis of Endo because the doctor did something wrong. Of course they won’t talk with the previous doctor. Now with my symptoms increasing I have to chat between my GP and OBGYN as they don’t think my body is a whole functioning unit. I’m hoping with adequate testing for diagnosis I can get some really help instead of jumping from doctor to doctor within my insurance to get a doctor to believe me.

  3. Ranjana Surplis says:

    At the age of 32 when I raised a decrease in the length of my menstrual cycle with my GP, the concern was dismissed saying ‘pre – menopausal’! I was a young woman, with an innate desire to have children. I was told pelvic pain is normal in women and that I must learn to accept it rather than complain. Fast forward 4 years I put my foot down and demanded to be referred to a specialist. Lo and behold ! what do they discover – stage 4 endo that fused my rectum to my vagina, ovaries to my uterus, the tubes could not be seen because they were buried under the adhesion, several endometrioma, and the graphics one would not have the stomach for. The surgeon went in and came out. The mess was beyond the repair. So, after all the pain was and is real, the fatigue is real, and I am still carrying on – working full time, and a mother of a miracle baby. Life carries on, but just something as little as acknowledging the pain and the challenges makes a world of a difference to an endo sufferer.

    • Kelly says:

      Doctors ignore women complaining of endometriosis because they are not compensated from the insurance companies for their efforts to remove endometriosis. The doctors are paid the same amount whether the client has stage 1 or stage 4 endometriosis. Sorry to disappoint anyone who may have thought otherwise. Doctors play like they are ignorant to your pain. They almost always send you for test all well knowing that those test are going to be negative. Endo is found in a keyhole surgery only to date. Good luck anyone out there who may be suffering from endometriosis.

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