New Cervical Cancer Screening Test Set To Save The Lives Of Women All Over The UK

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The largest ever registrational study for a diagnostic product, involving more than 47,000 women shows that the cobas(R) 4800 Human Papillomavirus (HPV) test from Roche, is able to improve the detection of pre-cancerous cells in women whose cervical smears tested normal. The ATHENA (Addressing THE Need for Advanced) HPV Diagnostics trial demonstrated that more than 1 in 10 women in the trial aged 30 years and older who tested positive for HPV genotypes 16 and/or 18 by the cobas 4800 HPV test had cervical pre-cancer although their Pap1 smear was normal. The conclusion is that genotypes 16 and 18 if tested positive are high-risk indicators of cervical cancer. The data points to the importance of genotyping to increase the accuracy of assessing the risk of cervical cancer, especially screening for the two high risk HPV genotypes 16 and 18, and underscores the limitations of relying on examining and assessing the appearance of cervical cells under a microscope as is the traditional method.

Cervical cancer causes approximately 1,000 deaths each year in the United Kingdom2. The current system of cervical cancer screening, introduced across the NHS in the late 1980s, is aimed at women aged 20 to 65 years. Women are invited to attend screening every 3 or 5 years depending on age and the system operates on a recall basis if the smear appears abnormal. Persistent HPV infection can lead to the development of pre-cancerous and cancerous cells in the cervix. The new cobas 4800 HPV test from Roche can provide early detection of pre-cancerous changes in the cervix reducing the risk of cervical cancer and thus has the potential to save lives.

“The ATHENA data shows that women who test positive for HPV 16 and/or 18 should be directly referred for closer examination of the cervix by colposcopy,” said Dr. Thomas C. Wright Jr., M.D. of Columbia University, New York. “Screening for high-risk HPV genotypes provides important additive information to Pap testing, and screening for the two highest risk types, HPV 16 and 18, should be included to provide predictive information about a woman’s risk of having cervical pre-cancer or cancer.”

The largest ever registrational study for a diagnostic product, involving more than 47,000 women shows that the cobas(R) 4800 Human Papillomavirus (HPV) test from Roche, is able to improve the detection of pre-cancerous cells in women whose cervical smears tested normal. The ATHENA (Addressing THE Need for Advanced) HPV Diagnostics trial demonstrated that more than 1 in 10 women in the trial aged 30 years and older who tested positive for HPV genotypes 16 and/or 18 by the cobas 4800 HPV test had cervical pre-cancer although their Pap1 smear was normal. The conclusion is that genotypes 16 and 18 if tested positive are high-risk indicators of cervical cancer. The data points to the importance of genotyping to increase the accuracy of assessing the risk of cervical cancer, especially screening for the two high risk HPV genotypes 16 and 18, and underscores the limitations of relying on examining and assessing the appearance of cervical cells under a microscope as is the traditional method.

Cervical cancer causes approximately 1,000 deaths each year in the United Kingdom2. The current system of cervical cancer screening, introduced across the NHS in the late 1980s, is aimed at women aged 20 to 65 years. Women are invited to attend screening every 3 or 5 years depending on age and the system operates on a recall basis if the smear appears abnormal. Persistent HPV infection can lead to the development of pre-cancerous and cancerous cells in the cervix. The new cobas 4800 HPV test from Roche can provide early detection of pre-cancerous changes in the cervix reducing the risk of cervical cancer and thus has the potential to save lives.

“The ATHENA data shows that women who test positive for HPV 16 and/or 18 should be directly referred for closer examination of the cervix by colposcopy,” said Dr. Thomas C. Wright Jr., M.D. of Columbia University, New York. “Screening for high-risk HPV genotypes provides important additive information to Pap testing, and screening for the two highest risk types, HPV 16 and 18, should be included to provide predictive information about a woman’s risk of having cervical pre-cancer or cancer.”

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.