The Debate on HPV Screening in Cervical Cancer

Following FDA approval of a DNA test to detect the HPV virus last year, the medical community is split over which test is more appropriate as a primary screen for cervical cancer in women.

Two medical groups say doctors could replace the Pap smear with a different test to screen many women for cervical cancer.

But that recommendation, included in an "interim guidance" released Thursday, is highly controversial; other experts call it premature.

For years, physicians have recommended that women routinely get Pap smears to catch any signs of cervical cancer early. That strategy, which requires taking a scraping of cervical cells to check for signs of abnormalities that can presage cancer, has significantly reduced the number of U.S. women who get the disease and die from it.

But the human papilloma virus is now thought to cause most cases of cervical cancer; last spring the Food and Drug Administration approved a test for the HPV virus as a primary screening test for the malignancy. That move by the FDA prompted an intense debate about whether an HPV test should merely supplement or perhaps replace the Pap test.

Link to the complete article on NPR:

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