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Trial to look into replacing smear test

7 June, 2012

Trial to look into replacing smear test

A pilot programme looking at a new test for cervical screening is to be launched, it has been revealed. Posted: 7 June 2012 by Rob Dabrowski


A pilot programme looking at a new test for cervical screening is to be launched, it has been revealed.

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It will asses whether HPV testing would be better than the current cytology test, commonly known as the smear test.

The pilot aims to establish whether using HPV testing as the primary screen results in better outcomes for women.

It will also look at whether it will reduce over-treatment and anxiety and if it is practical to roll-out nationally.

The pilot is supported by the UK National Screening Committee (NSC) and will be developed by the NHS Cervical Screening Programme.

Dr Anne Mackie, NSC director, said: ‘Part of our remit of is to look at how new tests, of proven effectiveness, can best be introduced to existing programmes.

‘This is a good example of a new approach that could further improve an already successful screening programme.

‘HPV testing may better indicate which women are at risk of cervical cancer.’

The NSC has also announced that it is looking into starting cervical screening in Wales and Scotland five years later than it currently does, to bring the countries in line with the rest of the UK.

At present, it begins at 20 in both countries, but the UK National Screening Committee has recommended this is pushed back to 25 years old.

Professor Julietta Patnick, director of the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, said: ‘Cervical abnormalities are common in women under the age of 25, but cervical cancer in this age group is very rare.

‘In the vast majority of cases in these younger women, the abnormalities clear up on their own.

‘If abnormalities are found, the follow-up investigation and colposcopy can increase the likelihood of the woman having a pre-term delivery during pregnancy, which can endanger both the baby and mother.’

A consultation is taking place into starting cervical screening in Scotland and Wales later, which is open until 9 August. It can be accessed here.

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