HPV test beats Pap in detecting cervical cancer
Much controversy has surround HPV during the last year - especially with Merck pushing its vaccine onto young teenage girls. NowPublic's very own babblingdweeb provides an excellent review of the virus and its effects here, while Karen Hatter provides her take on the vaccine here.
Meanwhile, McGill researchers have determined that HPV screening provides a much better way to screen for pre-cancerous lesions (94.6% detection) compared to the routine PAP screens (55.4% detection).
However, the PAP test did produce fewer false positives than the HPV screen.
According to the study's lead, Dr. Eduardo Franco, although false positives "...may be very disturbing and psychologically distressing for the patient,
but in the end, she's free of disease. False negatives are very serious
business, however. The patient will be assured that she's negative, all
the while a pre-cancer has a chance to become a cancer or her existing
cancer has a chance to grow." " [source]
Dr. Franco added that, while the HPV screening test is now more
expensive than a Pap test, that will likely change over time.
"Moreover, because of its higher sensitivity and only slightly lower
specificity, patients would only require an HPV test once every three
years instead of annually, as is necessary with the Pap test."