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HPV testing 'will increase screening uptake'

By Christian Duffin

Offering the opportunity to collect a self sample for HPV testing can uncover cancer cases among women who persistently fail to attend cervical screening, according to a UK study.

A randomised controlled study involving 3,000 persistent non-attenders backed the Department of Health's decision to use the HPV test as the preferred test in its cervical screening programme.

Half of the non-attenders were given an HPV self-sampling kit, while the other half in the control group were sent a further invitation to attend for cervical cytology.

The response for screening in the self-sampling group was 10.2%, but in the control group only 4.5% attended for cytology screening. Among the eight women who tested positive for HPV, seven attended for a cervical smear. Three were found to have high-grade disease.

Study leader Dr Anne Szarewski, group head for HPV and cervix studies at Queen Mary University of London, said: ‘The value of this intervention relies on the detection of high-grade CIN and early stage cancer with a good prognosis. The relatively high yield of abnormalities found is consistent with that expected among a hard to reach and relatively high-risk group of women.'

British Journal of Cancer advance online publication 22 February

More women attended for cervical cytology when sent a self-sampling HPV test kit

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