New screening has "potential to eliminate" cervical cancer in England

Henrietta Brewer
January 20, 2020

Gynecologists follow screening guidelines set forth by organizations such as American Cancer Society and American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology to help them decide when to administer which tests; it has a lot to do with the patient's age and medical history, says Carey August, M.D., chair of the pathology department at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

In the new method, samples are checked for the human papilloma virus (HPV).

HPV causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer and can also cause cancers in other genital areas, such as the vagina, vulva, penis and anus.

With HPV vaccinations and testing available nationally, cervical cancer might get very rare.

Until now, cervical screening samples have been examined and those that showed possible cell changes were then tested for HPV.

A quarter of these could be prevented with the new method of testing.

The jab, which protects against other forms of cancer as well as cervical, is offered to all girls and boys aged 12 and 13. 80% of us will get at least one type of HPV in our lives and in most cases the immune system will get rid of the infection without it causing any harm.

These changes are fully treatable, but if undetected and untreated they can lead to cervical cancer in some women.

Last year, scientists predicted the new test and jabs could eliminate cervical cancer in most countries by the end of this century. "It is vitally important that all eligible people attend for their screening appointments, to keep themselves safe".

"In the USA since we've introduced it, the cervical cancer rates related to HPV have decreased by around 50 percent".

This new method has been in place since the beginning of December, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan's ambitions to catch cancers earlier, making them easier to treat and survive.

Prof Johnson added that cervical cancer often causes no symptoms during the early stages of the disease, which is why it is "especially important that people attend their tests and that those who are eligible get vaccinated against HPV".

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