Cervical cancer `screening intervals should be extended`

Updated: Apr 28, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

London: Scientists have claimed that the
screening intervals of cervical cancer should be extended to
five years for women aged 30 and over if the primary screening
method was human papillomavirus (HPV) testing.

Cervical cancer is one of the few cancers that can be
prevented through early detection of pre-cancerous cells.

A team at University of London has found HPV tests are
very accurate in identifying early signs of cervical cancer,
detecting more serious abnormalities compared to current
cytology screening in women aged 30 and over.

Lead scientist Prof Jack Cuzick said: "Using HPV
testing as the primary screening method for cervical cancer
would not only mean women could be screened less often."

For their research, the scientists recruited more
than 11,000 women from 161 family practices around the UK. Two
samples were taken from each of the women -- one using the
conventional cytology screening method and the other was sent
for HPV testing.

Results showed the women with HPV negative results had
a lower rate of developing pre-cancerous (CIN2+) cells for at
least six years compared with women who recorded a negative
cytology result.

Co-scientist David Mesher said: "The data shows HPV
testing offers improved protection from CIN2+ after a negative
result compared with the protection afforded from a normal
cytology result."

Professor Cuzick added: "There is now an overwhelming
case for moving to HPV as the primary screening test for women
30 and over and demonstration projects should start for this

The findings have been published in the latest edition
of the `British Journal of Cancer`.