HPV Test Beats Pap

HPV Test Beats Pap

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.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) testing as a primary screening method for cervical cancer resulted in fewer cases and a lower rate of precancerous conditions than traditional cytological screening, researchers found.

US guidelines call for both HPV and Pap tests, but studies have shown that the real benefit comes from the HPV test, she added.

"All women of childbearing age should be screened for cervical cancer", said lead researcher Dr. Gina Ogilvie, a professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver.

According to The Washington Post, a large clinical "gold standard" trial published on Tuesday revealed that the test for HPV can detect precancerous changes of the cervix earlier and more accurately than the Pap smear. The researchers observed that women who were HPV-negative at baseline were significantly less likely to have CIN2+ or CIN3+ at 48 months compared with those who had negative Pap smear results at baseline. Since all women who received a Pap smear at the end of the study, additional cases of early cancer were also detected.

Patients with breast cancer may be missing out on genetic tests that could pinpoint the ideal treatment regimen, despite current practice guideline recommendations, Reuters reported. Two years later, the ones that tested negative after the Pap smear had another test of the same type. Those who tested negative with a Pap smear returned two years later and, if they tested negative again, another two years later.

According to Dr. Kathleen Schmeler, who is a gynecologic oncologist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the findings of this study have great implications on women's health.

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Doctors believe that the HPV test is more accurate, and is a better tool in earlier diagnosis, also increasing the time between screening. A total of 19,009 women were randomized to receive either HPV testing (intervention group) or a Pap smear (control group). A draft recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in 2017 recommended cytology testing to screen for cervical cancer every 3 years and HPV testing every 5 years for women ages 30 to 65.

Schmeler often works in Latin America where, in countries like El Salvador, cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women primarily due to poor screening programs.

The HPV test, which was first approved in 2014, uses cervical and vaginal secretions to check for the presence of HPV. This other option would be to simply test for HPV. They focused mainly on moderate or severe changes to cervical cells (pre-cancerous changes) that could lead to cervical cancer. But others disagree, saying that the Pap smear can catch a small number of cases of abnormal cells that might be missed by the HPV test and that co-testing should continue. This new study could prove important in deciding practice guidelines.

"If you tested everyone for HPV in their 20s, they are nearly all going to be positive, but there's going to be all of this intervention that's not needed", she says.

More women were referred for colposcopy after HPV tests at the start of the study: 57 per 1,000 women compared with 30.8 per 1,000 women after smear tests - but the reverse was true at 48 months. However, it looks like neither test was completely certain, as abnormalities were found in women from both groups who tested negative previously. Partly because of that, he said, "we're a long way away from replacing the Pap smear".

However, we do know that detecting cervical cancer earlier makes it easier to treat, so a test that can do that is likely to be welcome.

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