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DNA testing should replace Pap smear as main way to screen for cervical can

Category: DNA, Paternity and Genetic testing

According to researchers from the Center for Cancer Prevention in Turin, Italy, DNA testing for human papillomavirus (HPV) should replace the Pap smear as the preeminent way to screen women for cervical cancer.

Authors of the study followed approximately 95,000 participants over a three-year period and found that the HPV test prevented more cases of cervical cancer than the traditional Pap smear.

Researchers discovered that HPV testing is more sensitive and picks up more pre-cancerous changes to cervical cells than the conventional exam, the BBC reports. Moreover, the data suggests that HPV tests would only be needed to be done every five years rather than the Pap smear, which needs to occur three times annually.

"This research suggests that by testing for HPV in women aged 35 and over we might be able to spot the warning signs even earlier," said Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, which funds one of the study's authors.

Researchers have found that the HPV test would be unsuitable for women under 35 years of age because it is too sensitive and would create numerous false positives.

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