Spot Cervical Cancer Earlier

 Doctors now have a more reliable way to identify women at the highest risk for developing this deadly disease.

MORE.com Health Editors
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Photograph: Sean Locke

The FDA has approved the cobas HPV Test, the first one-pass screening tool to identify the two HPV strains that cause 70 percent of cervical cancers. Current tests can detect more than a dozen types of HPV linked to cancer, but the cobas also reveals whether a woman specifically has HPV-16 or HPV-18. Approval was based on the ATHENA study of more than 47,000 women. Researchers found that one in 10 women age 30 and older, who tested positive for HPV 16 and/or 18 by the cobas HPV Test, actually had cervical pre-cancer even though they showed normal results with the Pap test. The cobas test detects precancerous cells over 90 percent of the time, but about 30 percent of women who test positive for the most dangerous HPV strands turn out not to have precancerous lesions. Still, experts believe the test will help doctors make earlier, more accurate diagnoses, preventing many woman from developing cervical cancer and improving the care of those who have already developed the disease.

Read: WebMD

Wall Street Journal

First Published April 27, 2011

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