Women don't need doctors to check for HPV

A new study found that women can screen themselves for human papillomavirus (HPV) with a test that is about as effective as the method doctors use.

In findings announced last week, German researchers had woman ages 20-30 test themselves for HPV, then compared their results to those of women tested by doctors using endocervical brush samples, which is part of the standard Pap test.

The research is published in the October Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

The women used a testing kit called a Delphi Screener, a sterile, syringe-like device containing five milliliters of buffered saline. Women use the device to take a sample of cervical fluid, which is then sent to a laboratory for testing.

The device is already being used in the Netherlands, and the researchers hope to see the method become widespread in developing countries, where women get hit the hardest by cervical cancer rates, partially due to lack of proper access to screening. The UK is also testing the kits to hopefully access the estimated 15 percent of women who miss their screenings because they are too busy or find the exams uncomfortable or unpleasant.

Lead author Yvonne Delere said, "The high sensitivity of this self-sampling method guarantees to identify nearly all HPV-infected women."

Also last week in the US three cancer groups, the American Cancer Society among them, released new guidelines advising women to get fewer screenings over their lifetime (in the US, many women get screened annually). Also a women over 65 with a history of normal Pap tests can stop altogether, they stated.

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