New DNA Test Outperforms Pap Smears for Detecting Cervical Cancer
According to the results of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a new DNA test for the virus that causes cervical cancer shows that a single screening with the DNA test beats all other methods at preventing advanced cervical cancer and death.
Cervical cancer is caused by a few of the 150 strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV. Cervical cancer was a leading cause of death for American women in the 1950’s and continues to kill approximately 4,000 women each year.
An eight-year study in India of 130,000 women, ages 30 to 59, divided them into four groups. The first group, the control group, received the typical rural clinic care, the second got Pap smears, the third got “visualization” treatment, and the fourth received the new DNA test.
After eight years, the visualization group had about the same rates of advanced cancer and death as the control group. The Pap smear group had about three-fourths the rates, and the DNA test had about half.