Guess what? There might be a new way to detect cervical cancer that doesn’t involve a pap smear. Unfortunately, this new fangled test still uses a cold speculum. Sorry ladies.
The F.D.A. recently approved the use of a new test developed by Roche Molecular Systems that detects DNA infected by HPV, a virus which can lead to cervical cancer, through a sample taken from the cervix. Alternatively during a pap smear, that cervix sample is examined under a microscope to see if any abnormal cells are present while Roche’s process zeros in on finding HPV DNA. Previously, according to CNN, the Roche test was approved as a supplement to traditional pap's but now, doctors, if they are so inclined, can solely use the Roche test as a way to screen for cervical cancer.
If only these medical inventors would create something to find cervical cancer without the need for that thin cotton swab all up in our vaginas. A girl can dream …
Roche is probably celebrating this news as a victory, but not all in the women’s health community are happy.
The Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund, flanked by the American Public Health Association, the National Organization for Women and the women’s health education group Our Bodies Ourselves, wrote a letter to the F.D.A. saying that the Roche test might not be able to find all the hints of cervical cancer. In short, they wondered aloud if this Roche thing doesn’t find all of the cancer or HPV clues a regular pap could, that risk is too great. Naturally, the F.D.A. doesn’t agree.
Elsewhere the Society of Gynecologic Oncology released a statement, according to the New York Times, announcing their forth-coming rules on merging HPV testing with traditional cervical cancer screenings. Still, all of this back-and-forth may be for naught, because the Society notes that doctors won’t all rise up and trash their pap microscopes tomorrow since organizations like the American Cancer Society or the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists provide cervical cancer screening guidelines.
Still, one of the bigger problems with Roche's test is 2-10 percent of women will test positive for HPV. The virus is everywhere. According to the National Cancer Institute, 70 percent of sexually active people will contract an HPV genital infection at some point in their existence. So the goal and the rub for Roche will be identifying the types of HPV that will mature into cervical cancer in an attempt to save lives.
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