Kate Kelland, Reuters Published: Tuesday, April 27, 2010
LONDON (Reuters) – Cervical cancer screening intervals could be extended for women aged 30 and over if doctors used human papillomavirus (HPV) testing rather than smear tests, British scientists said on Wednesday.
Experts said research into different screening methods found that HPV tests were very accurate in picking up early signs of cervical cancer and detected more serious abnormalities than conventional smear tests in women aged 30 and over.
“Using HPV testing as the primary screening method for cervical cancer would not only mean women could be screened less often but it would also mean efficiency savings,” said Jack Cuzick, a professor of epidemiology at Queen Mary, University of London, who worked on the study.
Several companies, including Roche, Gen Probe Inc, Abbott and Qiagen make HPV tests.
According to the World Health Organisation, cervical cancer is the second biggest cause of female cancer deaths worldwide with about 288,000 deaths each year.
Cervical screening programs are well established in many wealthy nations and immunization programs against HPV with vaccines such as Cervarix from GlaxoSmithKline and Gardasil from Merck & Co are also being rolled out.