New ultra-sensitive smear test that women may only need once in a decade.


New ultra-sensitive smear test that woman may only need once in a decade.

A new cervical screening procedure is so sensitive that women over 40 may only need it every decade.  In an NHS funded study researchers followed almost 25,000 women for more than a decade. And in those given the new HPV tests which detects a risk earlier than conventional tests the danger of cervical cancer and pre-cancer was extremely low. Only one in 100 women who were in their twenties who tested negative for HPV reached the pre-cancer stage in the next decade.

Those women over 40 are a lot less likely to get the HPV virus, with only one in 1,000 women of this age going on to get pre-cancer. The authors concluded that ten years between tests could be a reasonable time between tests for this age group, and could be considered for younger women.

The uptake for screening is at an all-time low, and five million women are overdue. Repeated all clear results could be putting women off going back, less frequent appointments would be less inconvenient.

In Britain, the HPV test will be rolled out by the end of the year. Instead of detecting abnormal cervix cells, it picks up the HPV virus that can cause these abnormalities. Which means that it picks cancer risk up earlier.

The study followed 24,510 women in Manchester, 482 got pre-cancer and 23 were diagnosed with cervical cancer after screening. Of those aged 20-24 who tested negative for the HPV virus, just 1.1 percent went on to get cancer or pre-cancer. The women over 40 were ten times less likely to get cancer or pre-cancer with a rate of 0.11per cent.

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