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HPV test ‘does not identify cancer risk’

Adding a test for the human papillomavirus (HPV) to cervical screening does not help doctors identify women at risk of cancer, experts said today.

HPV is a sexually-transmitted infection which causes most cases of cervical cancer.

The NHS has been piloting the idea of routinely adding HPV testing to cervical screening in six laboratories across the UK.

For women whose smear results show “borderline” or mild abnormalities — suggesting cervical cells could develop to cancer at some point — an HPV test has been carried out on their sample.

But the new study says adding the HPV test to smear tests does not help doctors identify which women are at risk of cancer or the best form of follow-up treatment.

The study, funded by the Medical Research Council, showed that 70% of women testing positive for HPV after a borderline or mild abnormality smear did not develop cancer during a three-year follow-up.

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