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HPV Test Bests Pap Smear in Studies
Date:10/17/2007

luded more than 10,000 women between 30 and 69 years old who were randomly assigned to one of the tests. The HPV test detected 94.6 percent of the abnormal growths that can lead to cervical cancer, while the Pap test found only 55.4 percent of these growths. Women who had an abnormal result were referred for further testing. If both Pap and HPV were used together, 100 percent of the abnormal growths were found. The false-positive rate for HPV was only 2.7 percent higher than the rate for Pap smears, according to the study.

"Even though Pap has worked, we have a test that's better than Pap, and in the coming years, we can switch to HPV and possibly screen every three or maybe even every five years and get the same level of protection," said study author Dr. Marie-Helene Mayrand, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology and social and preventive medicine at the University of Montreal. Mayrand was a doctoral candidate at McGill University in Montreal at the time of the study.

The second study, done in Sweden, included more than 12,000 women in their 30s who were randomized to receive either a conventional Pap test alone or an HPV test and a Pap test.

The researchers found abnormal cervical changes in 51 percent more women who had both tests than in the Pap group alone. In subsequent screenings, about 40 percent fewer precancerous lesions were found in the women who'd been screened with both tests compared to women who'd had the Pap test alone, which suggests that overdiagnosis from the HPV test is not as big an issue as some experts had feared.

"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 even
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