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Smart Woman: PAP or HPV Test?

The PAP test, which has been the gold standard for detecting cervical cancer, may be losing a bit of it's luster.
Could a new procedure be taking the place of the PAP test?

An FDA advisory committee unanimously recommended this week that an HPV or Human Papilomavirus test become the first line of screening for the deadly disease.

The Roche Cobas Testdetects the DNA of the virus, which is the cause of more than 99% of all cervical cancers.  The PAP test is designed to look for abnormal cells that could indicate cervical cancer.  Up until now, the PAP was the first test women had to detect the illness with the HPV test as a second analysis. 

The committee also recommended the test to be used alone as the primary evaluation for women 25 years and older. Although there are other HPV tests available, the Roche test detects two strains of the virus that are found in 70 percent of all cervical cancers. 

This does not mean that the PAP test will go away. It could be used along with the HPV test or as a follow-up screening. It will really be up to the patient and her doctor on how best to handle testing. 

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