In the last five decades, the Pap smear test has been used to screen for early signs of cervical cancer. Since then, the conventional test was replaced by a liquid-based Pap cytology test, but now it seems that it might be replaced by a different test: the Human papilloma virus test (HPV test).
Canadian researchers led by Professor Dr. Gina Ogilvie (the School of Population and Public Health – University of British Columbia, Vancouver) found out that most of the cervical cancer cases are associated with HPV infection.
The study is titled “Effect of Screening With Primary Cervical HPV Testing vs Cytology Testing on High-grade Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia at 48 Months – The HPV FOCAL Randomized Clinical Trial.” It was published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
After checking on almost 19,000 women, they realized that detecting HPV was a more accurate way to detect early-stage cervical cancer compared to the routine Pap tests. They also found that women with negative HPV test were more likely to not have cancer for the next four years, compared to the ones that had a negative Pap test.
Dr. Gina Ogilvie explains that all women of reproductive or childbearing age should get screened for cervical cancer for early detection and that this can save thousands of lives. She added that the new HPV test could replace the Pap test for screening for cancer and that at the moment, women must get both a Pap test and HPV test:
“The real benefit of co-testing is with the HPV test.”
The study included patients from 2008 to 2012, and almost half of them were tested using the HPV test. They were followed up for four years to check again if they had had a pre-cancerous or cancerous lesion. The other group was tested using the Pap test and returned after two years and four years for rechecks. At the end of the four-year study, the women were tested with both tests.
The study found that almost six women in 1,000 that came negative with only Pap test had pre-cancerous lesions. On the other hand, two women in 1,000 that came negative with HPV testing showed precancerous lesions.
Doctors believe that the HPV test is more accurate, and is a better tool in earlier diagnosis, also increasing the time between screening.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere