Study: HPV tests more effective at finding precancerous cells in women than a pap smear

As someone born with a penis, I can't imagine how uncomfortable and intrusive a Pap test must be.

If you're a fella that's unfamiliar with what a Pap test is, ask a gal pal or allow me to give you the gist: A Pap test, also called a Pap smear, is a test that screens a woman for cervical cancer. To conduct the test, a doctor scrapes tissue from a woman's cervix to screen it for abnormal growth that could be indicate that cancer could be in her cards. Given the stakes, I can see why someone would subject themselves to this. According to the CBC, a recent study has determined that being tested for human papillomavirus (HPV,) instead of simply screening for abnormal cells, can be a whole lot more effective at determining whether a woman is at risk of developing cervical cancer. The real kicker here is that, for woman, being tested for HPV can be an almost identical procedure to getting a pap smear. That means a whole lot more gain for the same amount of pain.

From the CBC:

A clinical trial conducted in B.C. and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) randomly divided about 19,000 women into two groups. The control group had the traditional Pap test for their initial screening, while the test group had primary HPV screening — a test that looked for more than a dozen specific types of HPV most likely to cause precancerous lesions in the cervix.  

The HPV test found almost 60 per cent more precancers — or abnormal cells that could potentially become cancerous —  during the initial screening than the Pap test, said study co-author Dr. Dirk van Niekerk, a pathologist who is also the medical leader of the cervical cancer screening program at the B.C. Cancer Agency. 

While the dream is to find the means to screen for cervical cancer in woman and because I'm getting to the age where I should start thinking about getting checked, prostate cancer in men, without an invasive procedure, a 60% increase in the effectiveness of screening, for anyone, is a huge medical win.

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