-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, July 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new study involving
data on more than 1 million women finds the HPV test outperforming
the standard Pap test in assessing cervical cancer risk.
Researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) conclude
that a negative test for HPV (human papillomavirus) infection is
associated with an extremely low risk for cervical cancer and
provides greater assurance of low cervical cancer risk than a
negative Pap test.
Sexually transmitted HPV infection is thought to cause the
majority of cervical cancers.
The findings support current guidelines that advise that both
tests be used in cervical cancer screening, study lead author Julia
Gage, a research fellow in the NCI's division of cancer
epidemiology and genetics, said in an institute news release.
She believes the findings also bolster support for use of the
HPV test alone "as another alternative for cervical screening."
As the experts explained it, certain types of HPV cause nearly
all cervical cancers. A Pap test detects abnormal cell changes
associated with cervical cancer, and both the Pap and the HPV test
involve the use of cells collected from the cervix.
The new study included women aged 30 to 64 in California who
underwent HPV and Pap testing between 2003 and 2012.
The risk of developing cervical cancer within three years after
a negative HPV test was about half the already low risk seen after
a negative Pap test, the study found.
The number of women who developed cervical cancer within three
years was 11 per 100,000 after a negative HPV test compared to 20
per 100,000 after a negative Pap test, the investigators found.
One expert welcomed the new study.
Dr. Jill Maura Rabin works in Women's Health Programs-PCAP
Services at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, N.Y.
She said the finding "provides greater assurance regarding future
risk of cervical cancer."
She believes that "the annual well-woman visit remains an
excellent venue to re-assess your health and risk status, to
evaluate your complete health as well as to address any concerns
you may have."
However, a negative HPV test does not mean that a woman is
risk-free for life, Rabin stressed. "The risk of HPV and other
sexually transmitted infections remains a factor should your risk
status change -- for example, a new partner, or any illness which
suppresses your immune system," she said.
The study was published online July 18 in the
Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an influential advisory
group, currently recommends Pap testing every three years between
the ages 21 to 65, or co-testing every five years between the ages
30 to 65 for women with normal screening results.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
cervical cancer screening.
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