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Pap Smear could be replaced by HPV Roche for cervical cancer screening

For years women throughout America have gone in each year for their annual Pap smear. In fact, for the last 60 years the Pap smear has been used to detect cervical cancer. Now, according to a report issued by the FDA advisory committee, they have recommended that the Pap smear be replaced as the main detection for this deadly disease and be replaced by a special HPV test.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="350"]English: Intermed. mag. English: Intermed. mag. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)[/caption]

The new HPV test, which is used to detect the human papillomavirus, or HPV, was developed by Roche. This test has been over 99% effective at detecting cervical cancers by identifying abnormal squamous cells which are an early indication of cervical cancer. The new HPV test, as well as the old Pap smear test, are performed with a vaginal swab.

The HVP test has been in use for many years but was only used after the Pap smear test was done if the doctor determined a second analysis was needed. Now, that process would change if the committee’s recommendations are accepted. Now the HPV test could be the only test used for women who are over the age of 25. The Roche HPV test is one of many tests which identifies cervical cancer but has been found to be the most effective. According to a recent report by CNN, “It can identify two strains of the virus that are found in 70% of all cervical cancers.”

How many women are diagnosed with cervical cancer?


According to Dr. Thomas Wright Jr., an expert in gynecology and pathology at Columbia University Medical Center, there are over 12,000 women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year in the United States. The good news, however, is that many of these cancers are preventable if women detect the cancer early enough. Medical doctors believe this can be accomplished with the new HPV screening tests.

"I am pleased that the FDA panel recognized the importance of validated, scientific evidence documenting the use of primary HPV screening to detect women at risk of invasive cervical cancer and allow us to prevent cervical cancer from developing,” said Dr. Wright.

What will happen to the Pap Smear test?


The Pap smear test could still be used by doctors if they determine it is necessary. But doctors admit that many women who do not have HPV are less likely to get the needed tests. Doctors note, however, that changes by the FDA could cause some confusion for women and more research may be needed to determine what is truly best for patients.

Most doctors, however, seem to agree that early detection is critical, and it’s always good news when the medical community are willing to continue to work to detect and treat cervical cancer. Other doctors see the switch as a positive change but are not willing to completely forgo what they call the co-testing, where the Pap smear and HPV test are done in tandem, which is the currently the preferred method of cervical cancer screening in women over 30.

According to CNN, “Current U.S. guidelines for cervical cancer detection recommend that women between age 30 and 65 undergo the Pap test alone every three years, or both the HPV and the Pap tests every five years.”
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