New virus test may stop cervical cancer in rural women
A new rapid test for the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer, has proven to be 90 percent accurate in a trial involving women in rural villages in eastern China.
The trial involved 2,388 women in Shanxi in eastern China who were given instruments and instructions to collect specimens themselves. Midwives also collected other swab samples from the women. These were all run through careHPV tests.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer affecting women worldwide. It causes 300,000 deaths a year, with 85 percent of these occurring in the developing world.
Although there are now vaccines against HPV, they are useless in women already exposed to the virus. For these older women, screening and early detection remain the best hope.
The findings were published in The Lancet Oncology, and researchers said it could help pave the way for effective screening to prevent cervical cancer in rural and resource-poor settings.
The rapid test, careHPV, is a product of Qiagen NV and was designed to detect 14 high-risk types of HPV in about 2.5 hours. It can be operated by staff with minimal training and without any running water.
"If women 30 years and older could be screened at least once in their lifetimes with such a test, and appropriate treatment administered at the same visit, public health programmes would be affordable and deaths from cervical cancer would be reduced by a third," said one of the researchers, John Sellors, professor of family medicine at the McMaster University in Canada.