June 1, 2011
Most women aged 30 and older with normal Pap and human papillomavirus (HPV) test results can safely wait three years until their next set of cervical cancer screening tests, according to a new study discussed in an article written for WebMD Health News, published on May 18, 2011.
The findings of this particular study hint that HPV testing alone may be more accurate than Pap testing alone in predicting future cervical cancer. “The Pap testing screening program has greatly reduced rates of cervical cancer, but 11,000 women are still diagnosed every year and 4,000 women die from cervical cancer each year,” said Hormuzd A. Katki, PhD, who works in the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda.
HPV causes most cases of cervical cancer, and incorporating HPV testing into cervical cancer screening programs can catch more at-risk women. During a pap test, a doctor scrapes cells from a woman’s cervix and a laboratory examines these cells for abnormalities. When a type of Pap test called a liquid-based cytology test is performed, testing for HPV can be performed at the same time.
Such co-testing is currently recommended by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.