Pap smears has been traditionally used in cervical cancer detection that look for the the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) in cervical cells which is the cause of most cervical cancer.
In addition to the traditional Pap smears, DNA testing for HPV from cervical cells has higher significance in detecting high-grade precancerous lesions.
An early detection able to avoid cancer from spreading to other parts of body.
It is matter of life and death if high accuracy and high sensitivity precancerous lesions detection able to be performed within a short period of time. Removal of benign tumor should be done as soon as possible.
Time is gold - The faster it detects, the faster it can save one's life.
However, DNA testing cannot be a replacement for Pap smears as it had created more false alarms that could force more woman to have further unnecessary medical workup.
Few things you need to know about HPV DNA Test:
1. It is only meant for woman over 30 years of age.
Women under 30 years of age will have asymptomatic infection with HPV. Woman after 30 and older have higher risk of high-grade precancerous lesions.
2. Highly-sensitive and specific molecular techniques for identifying HPV DNA in cervical specimens.
HPV DNA test was found to have slightly worse specificity than Pap smears due to the improving sensitivity of the test. This has created higher false positives rate than Pap testing.
3. Women over 30 to be tested every three years if they add the HPV DNA test to their regular testing regime.
If both tests (Pap and DNA Testing) are negative, screening is not repeated for three years.
Eventually, with the advancement of DNA testing of HPV, Pap smears testing can be replaced and women will have less frequent cervical cancer screenings.