09 January 2013
Vol 5, Issue 167

About The Cover

Cover image expansion

ONLINE COVER Avoiding a Brush with Cancer. Shown are ovarian or endometrial tumor cells on the wall of the cervix as they are about to be swept up by a sample collection brush during a Pap smear. Pap smears are routinely used to detect cervical cancer. Now, a new study (Kinde et al.) reports a way for Pap smear samples to be screened for mutations characteristic of tumors located in less accessible areas of the female reproductive tract. As cells are shed from these cancers, a few of them travel down through the uterus and into the cervix where they get mixed into cervical samples picked up by a Pap smear brush. Genomic sequencing can be used to detect characteristic genetic changes in these tumor cells, even when the tumor DNA is greatly diluted by genetic material from normal cervical cells. See also the accompanying Perspective by Westin et al.. [CREDIT: E. COOK/JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY]