HPV Test Bests Pap Smear in Studies

"Adding HPV testing to Pap testing in routine cervical screening gives a longer protection against the severe precursor lesions of cervical cancer compared to just Pap testing," said study co-author Dr. Joakim Dillner, a professor of virology at Lund University and Malmo University Hospital in Malmo, Sweden.

"In women 30 years of age and older, it is likely to eventually replace the Pap test. The major benefit of the HPV test is that it, compared to Pap testing, enables lengthening the screening interval substantially," Dillner said.

Several questions remain, however. One is how the HPV test compares to the liquid-based Pap test, as neither of these studies used the newer test. And, Saslow pointed out, an emerging group of young women will have been vaccinated against HPV, and it's not clear how that might affect the reliability of the HPV test in the future.

More information

For more on preventing cervical cancer, visit the National Cancer Institute.

SOURCES: Joakim Dillner, M.D., Ph.D., professor, virology, Lund University and Malmo University Hospital, Malmo, Sweden; Marie-Helene Mayrand, M.D., assistant professor, obstetrics and gynecology and social and preventive medicine, University of Montreal; Debbie Saslow, Ph.D., director, breast and gynecologic cancer, American Cancer Society, Atlanta; Oct. 18, 2007, New England Journal of Medicine

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