Monday, 16 July, 2018

Women Over 30 Might have a Better Option than the Pap Smear

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Anna Jefferson | 05 July, 2018, 22:04

Still, it seems that more accurate outcome came from the HPV test than from the Pap smear, which could influence decisions in the future.

The study results showed that the human papillomavirus test is more sensitive than the widely used but often flawed method of performing a regular Pap smear, and several experts are predicting a strong push to replace Pap smears with simple HPV testing.

For the study, the researchers randomly assigned more than 19,000 women aged 25 and older to either Pap testing alone or HPV testing alone.

The study finds two key advantages to the HPV test, says Gina Ogilvie, MD, a professor of public health at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association could change that recommendation.

Most medical groups, including the American Cancer Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, recommend that women of average risk get both HPV tests and Pap smears every five years between age 30 and 65, though they say a Pap test alone every three years is an acceptable alternative.

According to NPR, The American Cancer Society claims almost 13,000 women in the USA are diagnosed with cervical cancer annually and more than 4,000 women die from it even when they have access to regular screening and treatment.

Massad has consulted with malpractice attorneys in cases alleging missed cervical cancer but declared he had no relevant financial relationships with industry.

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At the start of the HPV FOCAL trial, a part of the women received a Pap smear, while the rest had the HPV testing. According to the study, this method is recommended for the women aged thirty and above. The Pap smear has been around for 50 years, so co-testing remains a viable option, Wright said.

Even the most ideal tests can also be limited by the fact that not all women are receiving regular and timely screening. So while the HPV test is more sensitive of a test, it isn't flawless and missed some women with early signs of cervical cancer.

The National Cancer Institute's Mark Schiffman, who has done extensive research on HPV, said the study confirmed that it's important to move from the Pap smear to the HPV test alone.

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. "This has been building for decades", he said, adding that the Pap smear is "crude and inaccurate" while the HPV test is much more precise, operates on the molecular level and can provide information on the specific type of HPV causing the problem.

Dr. Carol Mangione, a USPSTF task force member and UCLA professor of medicine says the method of testing comes second to being sure that all women, especially high-prevalence groups like black and Hispanic women, are able to get the testing they need. From the participants, 9,552 women were screened using HPV test and those who were negative for the test came back after four years for a check if they had a pre-cancerous or cancerous lesion. "Women who have a negative HPV test are significantly less likely to have a precancerous lesion 4 years down the road than those who had a negative Pap".

"This is one study", he said. These conditions can be treated before they progress to cervical cancer.

Women with positive HPV or smear tests had their samples immediately analysed using the other test and then had a colposcopy if results showed both HPV and changes to cells.

Whether they receive a Pap test or an HPV test, the experience for patients is the same in their doctor's or nurse practitioners' office. He called use of the HPV test only a "reasonable strategy" but noted that the test's strength - its sensitivity - could result in more positive results and more testing. Increasing awareness among the global population about the benefits associated with these type of tests such as pre cancer detection have also led to the increased number of procedures for testing cervical cancers across the globe.

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