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New screening test could cut cervical cancer deaths by a third

Study says test may save lives in the developing world

OnMedica Staff

Monday, 22 September 2008

A new rapid screening test for HPV (human papillomavirus) created specifically for use in the developing world, has proved to be 90% accurate, according to new findings.

The study on a group of women in Shanxi province in Eastern China, found that the test was 90% accurate in detecting precancerous cervical disease.

The results, reported by You-lin Qiao and colleagues in an Article published early Online and in the October issue of The Lancet Oncology, conclude that the test—careHPV—could provide an effective primary screening method for cervical-cancer prevention in rural and low-resource settings.

Designed to be used in rural settings by personnel with minimal training, careHPV can detect 14 high-risk types of carcinogenic HPV in around 2·5 hours.

Cytological screening—as routinely done in North America and Europe—has led to a 50–80% reduction in mortality, but it has not been possible to translate this expertise to the developing world, where taking smears properly and reading them has been problematic.

Tested in collaboration with PATH (Seattle, WA, USA) and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this new HPV-DNA screening test is rapid, simple, affordable, and appropriate for use in low-resource settings.

John Sellors, Professor of Family Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada, director of the 5-year project to develop and study the new test while at PATH, states: “From these results in China, careHPV looks very promising as a test that will allow the rapid and highly accurate screening of women in developing regions for cervical cancer.

"If women 30 years and older could be screened at least once in their lifetimes with such a test, and appropriate treatment administered at the same visit, public-health programmes would be affordable and deaths from cervical cancer would be reduced by a third”.

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