A new study found that the HPV test was better than the Pap smear in detecting precancerous changes that can lead to cervical cancer
07 July, 2018, 22:03
Both tests are given in the same way, via a smear, so a woman's experience in the doctor's office would not be different if she had an HPV or older Pap test.
For women between the ages of 30 and 65 who are at risk of contracting human papillomavirus, a promising test might be an alternative to the dreaded Pap smear.
The cytology-based Pap smear includes searching for tumor or pre-cancer cells by testing cells obtained from the lower end of a female uterus, known as the cervix. detecting the diseases by observing a single cells and little groups of cells is known as cytology or cytopathology.
Researchers, led by the University of British Columbia, found that significantly more women showed signs of abnormal cells in the first round of HPV testing compared to the conventional smear tests, despite similar questionnaire responses.
The HPV test also seemed better at predicting who'd stay cancer-free, the investigators found. Women whose HPV test showed they didn't have the infection were less apt to develop a pre-cancerous lesion over the next four years, compared to women who'd gotten the Pap test alone.
Now that we have the results of such a large study, scientists are better able to understand the long-term accuracy of HPV test results. The vaccine is given to teens and young adults, but generations of women are still at risk of cervical cancer because HPV eventually infects most people at some point.
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. This finding upends traditional practice norms, which often rely on cytology testing via a Pap smear as a primary screening method for precancerous lesions.
Kathleen Schmeler, a gynecological oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center who was not involved in the study, was enthused about the new results.
In the United Kingdom, women are initially tested for abnormal cells before further checks reveal if they need further treatment for HPV. HPV test is more accurate, leads to earlier diagnosis and also increases the interval between screening. The two groups were again tested with both the methods post of 4 years.
The HPV test was more likely to pick up pre-cancerous cervical lesions earlier in the study, so the women in this group were significantly less likely to develop invasive neoplasia, or cervical cancer.
A new study conducted by a team of researchers has revealed a yet simpler method to examine any condition of cervical cancer. For women under 25, the Task Force suggests use of Pap test alone because many of them are infected with HPV. But there were still no final guidelines issued on this and that's why the new study might be important in helping with the decision.
Its replacement? The human papillomavirus test. Of the women who tested negative on the HPV test only 22 women showed abnormal cells (grade 3 or worse), while from the Pap smear group, 52 women ended up with abnormal cells.
Pap smear tests are also referred as Pap test or smear test or cervical smear test, in which Pap smear is prepared by collecting cells from outer cervix opening of the uterus and endocervix. Partly because of that, he said, "we're a long way away from replacing the Pap smear".
Researchers in the study said one of the next steps is to look into whether the additional cases of cervical cancer that could be found with HPV testing would justify the cost of co-testing - or whether HPV testing alone would be more cost effective.
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