A pioneering blood test that can detect up to 90 per cent of cases of endometriosis has been developed by UK scientists.
The simple test looks for tiny DNA fragments in the blood and could spare women needing to undergo keyhole surgery to diagnose the condition.
According to the charity Endometriosis UK, it takes an average of seven-and-a-half years to get a diagnosis from the first onset of symptoms.
Experts now hope to speed up this process through a new blood test, with laboratory results available within a few days.
Developed by MDNA Life Sciences and experts at the University of Oxford, the test will be available privately in the UK within nine months and may be accessible on the NHS in the near future.
The Mitomic Endometriosis Test, which was developed at MDNA's Newcastle lab, looks for biomarkers of endometriosis in the blood through the close examination of mutations in mitochondrial DNA.
A study published in the journal Biomarkers in Medicine found that these newly-identified biomarkers can accurately detect endometriosis in blood samples in up to nine out of 10 cases, even in the early stages of the condition.
The company has already developed a blood test for prostate cancer and is looking to release tests for ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer next year.
Dr Christian Becker, from the Nuffield Department of Women's and Reproductive Health at the University of Oxford, said: "Endometriosis not only causes enormous suffering to the affected women, but also brings a tremendous medical and economic burden to bear on society.
"There is a long lag phase between the onset and diagnosis of the disease, mainly due to its non-specific symptoms and because it can only be diagnosed invasively by laparoscopy. A specific, non-invasive test to aid diagnosis of endometriosis is certainly an unmet clinical need."
Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other parts of the body, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. It is the second most common gynaecological condition after fibroids.
Australian Associated Press