This early intervention strategy is a positive step in the battle to avoid potentially fatal delays in diagnosing and treating cervical cancer, which currently causes around 850 deaths per year in the UK.
Research about the new test, published in Genome Medicine, shows that a positive WID-CIN swab test result likely indicates a significantly increased risk of developing CIN3+ (Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia) in the near future.
The swab test was able to predict advanced cell changes in 55 per cent of women who had a Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, the common virus which causes 99.8 per cent of cervical cancers. These women had no visible cell changes under the microscope, but went on to develop advanced cell changes within the subsequent four years.
Women who show early cell changes (CIN1-2) will then be screened more regularly, until the cells have turned back to normal, or treatment is needed.
The development of the test is part of a wider programme, aimed at developing a single screening test to predict the future risk of four cancers: breast, womb, cervical and ovarian.
It has previously been reported that cervical cancer screening has been the most successful personalised cancer prevention strategy to date. The current screening aims to identify women with a pre-invasive lesion, which is then surgically removed.
In England, women are currently invited to attend a cervical screening appointment every three years. But Government data looking at the uptake of invitations for cervical screening show that only just more than 40 per cent of women in 2019 acted on the reminder. The Cervical Screening Saves Lives’ campaign introduced in 2019 appears to have had only a short-term impact on uptake.
The hope is that an early intervention strategy will cast a wider net for testing more women. If performed and reported correctly, cervical screening should avoid delays in diagnosing cervical cancer and the start of treatment.
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