New Approach to Cervical Cancer Screening

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new study has found that HPV-based screening could be significantly more effective in terms of protecting against invasive cervical cancer as compared to the currently used cytology-based screening.

There are about 500,000 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed each year around the world, making screening for the disease extremely important. The current cytology-based method involves the examination of cervical cells under a microscope. HPV-based screening involves testing those same cells for the presence of the Human Papilloma Virus, a harmless virus that can sometimes lead to cancer.

The study, published in The Lancet, analyzed data from over 175,000 women in four separate trials and found that the rate of detection of invasive cancer was similar for the first 2.5 years, regardless of which type of screening they underwent. Beyond the 2.5 year mark, however, the rate of detection was lower in those women who underwent HPV-based testing.

Researchers explain the difference by saying that cancer was detected earlier in women who underwent HPV-testing, allowing them to undergo treatment before the cancer became invasive. The difference, researchers posit, is about 60 to 70 percent more protection against invasive cancer for women who underwent HPV-based testing.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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