The process of cervical cancer screening is changing and will allow women access to more accurate tests, in the aim of preventing the disease.
After a successful pilot scheme, the new screening will be rolled out across England. This new test will be the first and main screening test for cervical disease.
At the moment, screening samples are tested using a cytology test and examining for abnormal cells that could develop into cancer. However, the cytology test leaves room for abnormal cells to be missed, as they sometimes look similar to normal cells.
The new testing process will test samples for the human papilloma virus (HPV) first. Of cervical cancers, 99.7 per cent of cervical cancers are caused by persistent HPV infections, causing changes to the cells. If HPV is found then it is a good guide that abnormal cells are present. Women will then closely monitored and
Jane Ellison, Public Health Minister, said, “These changes are a breakthrough in the way we test women for cervical disease. The new test is more accurate, more personal and will reduce anxiety among women.”
“Cervical screening currently saves 4,500 lives a year, and this new test will ensure the early signs are spotted and treated earlier.”
Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said, “It’s a huge step forward that the government is now introducing the HPV test to improve cervical screening. Testing first for the human papilloma virus will help prevent more cervical cancers, as it can pick up the cancer-causing infection before any abnormalities can develop in the cells.”
“The need for improvements to the cervical screening programme was set out in the cancer strategy for England last year, so it’s good to see progress being made.”