HPV Testing in Cervical Cancer Screening

HPV Testing Alone is Better than Co-testing with Pap Smear for Cervical Cancer Screening

By Ramadhani Chambuso

Despite huge research into HPV and the introduction of preventive HPV vaccines, cervical cancer screening will remain important and comprise many millions of tests annually for decades to come.

Screening by HPV testing, which detects a cervicovaginal specimen for the presence of the nucleic acids of carcinogenic types of HPV, is more sensitive than the Pap test which is a microscopic examination of exfoliated cervical cells, for detection of cervical pre-cancers, a new study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute finds.

However, the reports of rare HPV-negative, Pap-test positive cancers are motivating the continued use of both tests (co-testing) despite increased testing costs. In addition, the HPV test captures the known cancer causing viruses only, but it is believed that there may be other unknown cancer causing viruses and so continue to do the Pap smear plus the HPV testing is crucial.

Thus, if a single screening method were chosen to complement HPV vaccination, primary HPV testing likely would gradually supplant the Pap test.

Source link: Schiffman et al. (2017).

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