Wednesday Aug 24, 201104:40 PM GMT
HPV test best for cervical cancer
Wed Aug 24, 2011 4:42PM
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Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
A new study suggests that human papillomavirus (HPV) tests might be more accurate in detecting cervical cancer in women than the Pap test alone.

Researchers at the Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden who studied more than 40,000 healthy women over the age of 25 found that HPV tests could identify HPV strains 16 and 18 of the virus, which cause about 70 percent of all cervical cancer cases.

The study also showed that using both HPV and Pap tests could only detect about 5 percent more of the advanced precancerous and cancerous lesions, but increased the number of cases that were falsely tested positive by more than one-third.

“You get a 5 percent gain for a 35 percent over-referral,” said lead author Dr. Mark H. Stoler, suggesting that HPV test might be enough for most women.

The false-positive tests lead to more frequent or invasive testing to rule out cancer, more anxiety for patients, and more expense for individuals and insurance companies, he added.

According to the report published in the journal Lancet Oncology, all women who tested positive for HPV, those who had abnormal Pap smear results, and a random sample of those who had normal test results were sent to have a colposcopy for a closer examination of the cervix.

While the suggested HPV screening may be a good replacement for pap smear test, researchers believe that more studies would be needed to convince doctors to change their screening approach for cervical cancer.

“It's a matter of society and the organizations that write guidelines giving practitioners permission to do it that way,” Stoler said. “That's a hard thing to move.

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