HPV Test More Accurate than Pap In Screening for Cervical Cancer

HPV Test More Accurate than Pap In Screening for Cervical Cancer

HPV Test More Accurate than Pap In Screening for Cervical Cancer

The study results showed that the human papillomavirus test is more sensitive than the widely used but often flawed method of performing a regular Pap smear, and several experts are predicting a strong push to replace Pap smears with simple HPV testing.

Lead researcher Dr. Gina Ogilvie, a professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver explained that cervical cancer screening should be performed for all women who belong to the reproductive or childbearing age.

'We must also not lose sight of the need to improve attendance of this potentially life-saving tests and ensure women can access it'. However this new HPV test may soon replace the existing Pap test as a more preferred screening test, she said.

In addition to finding more precancers in the initial screening, women who had the HPV test had a "significantly lower likelihood" of having precancer in the cervix when they exited the study four years later. But one issue is that it was centered around one ideal system in British Columbia, where they had one place to send all of the Pap smears and HPV testing. In both the groups, the final co-testing discovered more abnormal cells within some of the women who initially tested negative. He called use of the HPV test only a "reasonable strategy" but noted that the test's strength - its sensitivity - could result in more positive results and more testing. According to Kathleen Schmeler, MD, gynecologic oncologist, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, even if guidelines do change for women age 30 and older, the Pap smear is still important for women age 21 to 29.

HPV test can be administered every five years, and catches more precancerous cells that traditional Pap smears. Despite the widespread use of cervical cancer screening with a Pap smear, it was estimated that approximately 12,820 women in the United States would develop, and 4210 would die, from cervical cancer in 2017. These conditions can be treated before they progress to cervical cancer. "The real benefit of co-testing is with the HPV test", she said.

Half of the women in the study were randomized to get the HPV test and half to the standard Pap smear screening alone.

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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.

In the first round of screening at the start of the study, more cases of CIN3+ were found in women who had HPV tests (7 per 1,000 women) than women who had smear tests (4.4 per 1,000 women). He wrote in an email that this new study actually shows the small but significant benefit of co-testing. In turn, gynecologists might change which tests they recommend for their patients. "Most women and doctors are not willing to give up this additional impact", he added.

'This can mean that women may need to be screened less frequently but have more accurate results.' There are about 3,000 cases of cervical cancer in the United Kingdom every year, leading to around 850 deaths. Women who originally had the Pap smear were more than twice as likely to have abnormal cells. Infection with HPV types targeted by the vaccine has declined by almost two-thirds among teenage girls since HPV vaccination was recommended in the United States, according to a study that also found that there was a decrease in HPV infections among women 20 to 24.

Of note, the Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care differs from the USA task force - it recommends Pap smear screening every three years between ages 30 and 69, citing weak evidence for screening women ages 25 to 29.

Medical students learn how to insert a speculum, part of the process of performing a Pap smear.

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