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HPV DNA test best at detecting cervical cancer
The report suggests that HPV detection through DNA screening is more sensitive than standard Pap tests in detecting precancerous high-grade lesions on the cervix. (Sven Hoppe)
DNA testing for the human papilloma virus in cervical cancer screening is the best option for detecting the cancer in women over 30, finds a new study.
The report finds suggests that HPV detection through DNA screening is more sensitive than standard Pap tests in detecting precancerous high-grade lesions on the cervix. High-risk HPV was present in nearly all cervical cancers, the authors say. In the study, women were randomly assigned to receive either HPV DNA testing and cytology or cytology alone. A second screening was conducted five years later and HPV and cytology tests were conducted at that point.
The first screen found significantly more precancerous lesions (dysplasia) of Grade 2 or worse than cytology screens alone. Five years later, the second screen found significantly fewer women had cervical cancer lesions of Grade 3 or worse. The most advanced form of dysplasia, CIN 3, is actually the very earliest form of cancer, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. The authors belive that because more lesions were found at earlier stages in the first round of screening, there were significantly fewer advanced cases of cervical cancer five years later.
“Implementation of HPV DNA testing in cervical screening leads to earlier detection of clinically relevant CIN Grade 2 or worse, which when adequately treated, improves protection against CIN Grade 3 or worse and cervical cancer," reads the study.
Whether HPV testing is a better diagnostic tool in a longer screening period has not been established, say the authors.
The report, Human papilloma virus testing for the detection of high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and cancer, was conducted by researchers at the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam and involved 45,000 women aged 29 to 56 between January 1999 and September 2002.