Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

HPV testing results in 'earlier detection and treatment' of cervical pre-cancers

  • Comment

Women who receive human papillomavirus (HPV) testing, in addition to a pap smear, receive a faster, more complete diagnosis of possible cervical pre-cancer, according to UK researchers.

Their study, published in JAMA Oncology, is the first comprehensive evaluation of HPV testing on the long-term outcomes of women who had received a borderline abnormal pap test result.

“Knowing a woman’s HPV status can help determine her likelihood of needing additional procedures”

Jack Cuzick

A total of 457,317 women were included in the study by the Queen Mary University of London and the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Of these, 4.5% received a borderline abnormal result through a pap smear and were followed for five years. Some of the women with borderline abnormal pap smear results had an HPV test.

HPV testing led to a 15.8% overall increase in the detection of cervical pre-cancers and time to detection was much shorter – a median of 103 days versus 393 days.

Virtually all cervical pre-cancers were detected in women who tested positive for HPV, said the researchers, suggesting HPV testing to be a good additional screening method after the pap smear.

The researchers highlighted that colposcopy could then be focused on women who would need it most – those with a positive HPV test.

At the same time, however, HPV testing of women resulted in 56% more biopsies and a 20% increase in surgical treatment procedures performed. Most of the additional biopsies were for low grade lesions which could have regressed, indicating some overtreatment due to HPV testing.

Queen Mary, University of London

Professor Jack Cuzick

Jack Cuzick

Professor Jack Cuzick, from Queen Mary University, said: “This study shows that knowing a woman’s HPV status can help determine her likelihood of needing additional procedures, and prioritise immediate treatment and medical resources to the women who need them most.”

Professor Cosette Wheeler, from the US arm of the study, added: “The benefits of HPV testing outweigh the harms observed but it’s important to understand and quantify the harms as well.”

The study authors warned that, as it was an observational study, it was possible there could be socioeconomic or other relevant differences among healthcare facilities that were not measured but that could have affected the findings.

 

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.