It performed “significantly better” than the Pap smear or human papillomavirus (HPV) test. The HPV test, which looks for the presence of cancer-causing HPV DNA, is more accurate, but does not identify women’s risks of developing cancer. The study’s authors believe that it would be cheaper if introduced fully but it could take at least five years for the test to to be available for all women. Its authors believe that detecting the disease from the start would reduce the number of doctors’ visits and screening appointments.
Lead researcher Professor Attila Lorincz, who also helped develop the world’s first test for HPV in 1988, called it an “enormous development”. “We were surprised by how well this new test can detect and predict early cervical cancers years in advance, with 100 per cent of cancers detected, including adenocarcinomas, which is a type of cervical cancer that is very difficult to detect,” she added.The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and Cancer Research UK and published in the International Journal of Cancer.