There’s a Much Better Option Than Pap Smears For Detecting Cancer, Evidence Shows

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According to ScienceAlert

For over half a century, the Pap smear test has been the principal method for detecting abnormal cells that could lead to cancer of the cervix.

That is slowly changing as screens for the human papillomavirus (HPV) have been found to do a better job at detecting potentially cancerous cells, even among women who have been immunised against the virus.

New research led by Cancer Council New South Wales, Australia, has added to mounting evidence supporting the use of HPV screening as a way to detect the precancerous cervical lesions that could develop into a life-threatening illness.

Around 100 different types of human papillomavirus lurk inside at least half of the population, making it one of the most common examples of sexually transmitted infection around.

The virus is usually asymptomatic, but in an unlucky few it can develop into genital warts or – far more tragically – one of several forms of cancer, including that of the anus, penis, and cervix.

Early signs of a potential cervical cancer have traditionally been spotted by finding odd looking cells in a sample of tissue taken in examinations every two years.

The so-called Pap smear test, developed early last century by a cytologist named George Papanicolaou, can inform an intervention that increases the chances of curing the cancer from 66 to 92 percent.

Thanks to a handful of studies conducted in recent years, it turns out that identifying the presence of one of the viruses responsible for around three quarters of all cervical cancers could provide as much as 70 percent better protection than the old cytology screen.

Detecting the pathogen is often done through a relatively straight-forward DNA screen, where a sample of cells taken from the genitals or cervix is sent off to a laboratory for analysis.

 

Read more…

This research was published in PLOS Medicine.

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This article and images were originally posted on [ScienceAlert] September 20, 2017 at 03:54AM

Credit to Author and ScienceAlert

 

 

 

 

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