DIY smear test works for cervical cancer

2019-03-01 05:09:10

A DO-IT-YOURSELF smear test could enable millions of women in poorer countries to head off cervical cancer. Eighty-five per cent of cervical cancer cases occur in developing countries, where screening for pre-cancerous changes is rare due to difficulties in obtaining samples and a shortage of cytologists to interpret them. Testing for DNA from the human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes the disease is an alternative method. A kit created by Qiagen of Gaithersburg, Maryland, enables women to take their own cell sample, which is then posted to a lab. Fang-Hui Zhao of Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, China, and colleagues have now reviewed data from 13,000 women in China screened using HPV-testing, traditional smear testing, or a method that uses acetic acid. Self-HPV testing was the most effective at detecting early signs of cancer, although there were some false positives – some women had HPV but didn’t have any signs of cervical cancer (JNCI: Journal of the National Institute of Cancer, DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djr532). “Self-HPV testing has potential as a primary screening method for women, regardless of their access to healthcare,” says Zhao. More on these topics: