New test may improve cervical cancer detection

Routine smear tests have considerably reduced the number of cases of cervical cancer, but despite intensive screening 250 women in Sweden still die from the disease every year. Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have developed new methods of minimising the number of missed cases and making diagnosis more reliable.

Since the introduction of organised screening in Sweden in the 1960s, the number of women being diagnosed with and succumbing to cervical cancer has fallen dramatically. Screening, where a sample of cells is collected from the and examined under an , detects early cell changes so that they can be treated before they cause cancer.

However, despite intensive screening 250 women still die from cervical cancer each year in Sweden, and a further 500 develop the disease.

The sensitivity of the current test is low, which means that cell samples must be taken at least every three years. A large number of tests must also be repeated because of unreliable results – something which causes anxiety among patients and additional costs for the health service.

Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg have now developed a complementary test capable of minimising the number of missed cancer cases.

"Around 70 per cent of all cases are caused by two specific virus types, known as and HPV18. We have developed a method that identifies proteins of these oncogenic viruses in cells, enabling a more objective interpretation of the test results," explains Maria Lidqvist, a doctoral student, who presents the method in her thesis.

"This method can hopefully produce a more reliable diagnosis in uncertain cases and reduce the number of missed cancer cases, as well as the number of women who have to be re-called because of cell samples that are difficult to interpret."

The research behind this method has been financed by the Swedish Research Council and conducted at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, in collaboration with Fujirebio Diagnostics AB in Gothenburg.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Link between nationality and cervical cancer

Sep 03, 2008

Gynaecological screening tests for cervical cancer have been available to all women in Sweden for almost four decades. Despite this, many immigrant women have a higher risk of developing the disease than Swedish-born women, ...

Recommended for you

Chromosome buffers hold key to better melanoma understanding

2 hours ago

Buffers that guard against damage to the ends of chromosomes could hold the key to a better understanding of malignant melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – according to new research from the University of Leeds.

User comments