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New Test Can Help Predict Cervical Cancer in HPV-Positive Women

October 26, 2018

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By Sara Bondell

A new test can help guide cervical cancer screening for women who test positive for human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.

According to a National Cancer Institute (NCI) study, the test can more accurately predict whether an HPV-positive woman would develop cervical cancer within five years compared to a Pap test. The dual-stain test measures the presence of two specific proteins that in combination have shown to be a good way to detect precancers.

“It is exciting that not only has HPV testing helped decrease the frequency and amount of invasive diagnostic testing for women in recent years, but further refinement with testing such as this may help triage women even more accurately,” said Dr. Robert Wenham, chair of Moffitt’s Gynecologic Oncology Program. “This could spare more women from unnecessary testing and worry, while preserving or improving the accuracy of early detection.”

The NCI study results showed that HPV-positive women who had a negative result on the dual-stain test had a low risk of developing cervical cancer over the next five years. Researchers concluded these women could safely wait three years before undergoing their next round of screening.

Wenham says since these lab tests are already available they would be easy to implement into practice if validated.

Approximately 12 strains of HPV are known to cause cervical cancer and several other cancer types. The United States Preventive Services Task Force says women age 30 to 65 years at average risk of cervical cancer can be safely screened with an HPV test or combination of HPV and Pap tests every five years.