Improved early detection of the virus responsible for cervical cancer

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)Researchers have reported that the virus responsible for many of the cases of cervical cancer are most prevalent in women aged 30 or above. They have used new DNA tests in this research.

This research has been done by Chris Meijer and colleagues from the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam and published online in the Journal The Lancet Oncology.

Researchers worked on 45,000 or so women, aged 29-56, for five years for human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a virus, the persistant infection to which at last leads to cervical cancer although many infections caused by sexually transmitted viruses are cleared naturally with the help of immune system.

Companies such as Roche and Qiagen worked a lot for the testing of these “high-risk” strains. The new tests are known to work more efficiently in detection of HPV and this new Dutch research shows that new tests are even better than Pap smears alone over two screening rounds set five years apart. This can help in detection of pre-cancerous lesions helping in the improved protection against cancer.

Researchers have reported that conventional screening must be done along with the testing for the presence of DNA from HPV for best results. They found that the combination of smear tests and DNA tests revealed more cases of intermediate (grade 2) changes or worse than smear tests alone and follow-on tests conducted five years later showed fewer cases of more serious CIN grade 3 changes than those who did only had the smear test.


Dorien C Rijkaart MD, Johannes Berkhof PhD, Lawrence Rozendaal MD, Folkert J van Kemenade MD, Nicole WJ Bulkmans MD, Daniëlle AM Heideman PhD, Prof Gemma G Kenter MD, Prof Jack Cuzick PhD , Prof Peter JF Snijders PhD , Prof Chris JLM Meijer MD, (2011). Human papillomavirus testing for the detection of high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and cancer: final results of the POBASCAM randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Oncology, doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(11)70296-0

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