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Cervical cancer test setback

22nd March 2010

Researchers have warned that carrying out tests for HPV during cervical smear examination does not show which women are in danger of cervical cancer.

cervical cancer

If a test result is positive for human papillomavirus, it does not show which women should be seen urgently, according to a study funded by the Medical Research Council.

The health service has said it plans to add the HPV test to cervical cancer screenings at some locations in the UK.

The study examined the results of 4,439 women who underwent screening in Grampian, Tayside and Nottingham.

Women who had results with mild abnormalities were then tested for HPV. The study showed that 70% who had positive HPV results did not demonstrate "early" signs of cancer during the next three years.

Dr Maggie Cruickshank, from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Aberdeen, headed the research team.

She said: "The most important thing is to attend for cervical cancer screening - the most effective way of preventing cervical cancer. This new additional test may not add any value."

"Our study is showing that HPV is such a common infection in younger women that testing for it doesn't help decide which is the best action to take."

 

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