New Cervical Cancer Screening Method Is More Accurate Than Pap Smears

Leslie Hanson
July 5, 2018

As a part of this recent study known as HPV FOCAL trial, the HPV test was compared to the conventional Pap smear examination among nineteen thousand women in Canada over 4 years. "Since it's a better test at about the same cost and can be done less often, it should replace Pap testing", he says. "It shows that doing HPV testing alone provides a high degree of accuracy" on who might be at risk for cervical cancer.

The HPV infection is the most common sexually transmitted infection and is usually eliminated by the immune system within a year or two. However, repeated or persistent infections can cause cellular changes in the cervix, eventually developing into precancerous lesions which can become malignant.

"This information will help inform future cervical cancer screening guidelines and continue to decrease deaths from this preventable disease", added Schmeler, who was not involved in the study. About 4,200 women will die of the disease. He wrote in an email that this new study actually shows the small but significant benefit of co-testing. HPV tests are also referred HPV DNA tests, which is mainly a follow up test for the abnormalities detected during the Pap smear tests. It was published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "It's fantastic", she said. The participants were given questionnaire's which included questions related to their HPV vaccination status, sexual health and sociodemographic status, among other factors.

Moving away from co-testing may not be a good idea, according to Mark Spitzer, an OB-GYN and past president of American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology.

As NPR reports, it's been hard to justify replacing the Pap smear with the HPV test because, until now, there hasn't been a head-to-head comparison.

The confirmation of a positive HPV test appeared to be more predictive of a grade 2 or 3 cervical lesion than cytology screening alone. Dr Kathleen Schmeler, a gynaecologic oncologist at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center said, "The bottom line is that it could really potentially simplify how we screen women and have it been more effective and not quite as complicated and burdensome - and opens the door for doing just HPV testing which is actually what's now recommended by the World Health Organisation for countries that don't have Pap testing capabilities". By 48 months, there were significantly fewer cases of CIN2+ and CIN3+ detected among all age groups in the intervention group.


Women with positive HPV or smear tests had their samples immediately analysed using the other test and then had a colposcopy if results showed both HPV and changes to cells.

One of these methods is co-testing for the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes 99 percent of cervical cancer. One group got the HPV test to screen for cervical cancer, almost all cases of which are caused by HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection. Increasing awareness among the global population about the benefits associated with these type of tests such as pre cancer detection have also led to the increased number of procedures for testing cervical cancers across the globe. Altogether, 17% of the variation in genetic testing rates could be explained by surgeons' practice patterns, the study found.

The study found that nearly six women in 1,000 that came negative with only Pap test had pre-cancerous lesions.

A new draft guideline from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, however, says HPV testing can replace Pap tests, Ogilvie said. It adds to a body of research suggesting that HPV testing might be more accurate.

Pap smears rely on the human eye to get results, she says, and it's far preferable to detect problems on a molecular level. For women under 25, the Task Force suggests use of Pap test alone because many of them are infected with HPV.

It also causes head and neck cancer, anal cancer and cancer of the penis.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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