Self-HPV test could screen for cervical cancer

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can often present as a precursor to cervical cancer and the authors of a new study have found that testing for the virus can be a more cost effective way to screen for cervical cancer than the traditional screens. The recommended cervical cancer test in the UK, cervical cytology, is a process requiring considerable laboratory resources and may not be a viable option in developing countries.

Rates of cervical cancer in developed countries have declined since widespread screening began, however, diagnoses in developing countries are on the increase. The study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute compared the different screening methods to include self-collected Pap tests. While the researchers found that the self-test was not as specific as other methods and could not be used as a stand-alone test, it may reduce the need for the other, more costly, tests to be used except when necessary.

In the UK, girls aged 12–13 are offered the HPV vaccine to prevent against the types of HPV that lead to cervical cancer; older teenage girls are also being offered the vaccine in a catch-up programme. Women aged 25–64 are offered cervical screening at their GP practice or family planning clinic. For further information on screening for cervical cancer please click here.

Abnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. Full medical glossary
Relating either to the cervix (the neck of the womb) or to the cervical vertebrae in the neck (cervical spine). Full medical glossary
The study of individual cells. Full medical glossary
An abbreviation for human papilloma virus, a sexually transmitted virus that can cause genital warts and may also have a role in the development of various cancers. Full medical glossary
A non-cancerous growth that resembles a wart. Full medical glossary
per vaginam Full medical glossary
A way to identify people who may have a certain condition, among a group of people who may or may not seem to Full medical glossary
The means of producing immunity by stimulating the formation of antibodies. Full medical glossary
Capable of survival. Full medical glossary
A microbe that is only able to multiply within living cells. Full medical glossary