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HPV ‘should be primary test’ in cervical screening



By Emma Wilkinson

HPV testing offers longer-term protection from cervical cancer than cytology and should be the primary method of screening, a study has concluded.

Five-year follow up of screening in 11,000 women showed that CIN2 or higher grade lesions occurred in only 0.23% of women who tested HPV negative compared with 0.48% who had a negative cytology result.

The risks of CIN2 or higher 1, 3 and 8 years after a negative HPV test were found to be 0.09%, 0.12% and 0.61% compared with 0.21%, 0.28%, and 1.04% after a negative cytology result.

Study leader Professor Jack Cusick who runs the Cancer Research UK Centre for Epidemiology, Mathematics and Statistics at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London, said the results provide additional support for using HPV as the primary screening test.

He added: ‘The very high sensitivity of HPV testing cannot only lead to a more effective screening programme but the resulting high negative predictive value can safely allow longer screening intervals and result in a more cost-effective programme as well.’

British Journal of Cancer, published online April 28

HPV testing offers longer-term protection from cervical cancer, compared with cytology