By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com May 24 2003 12:00 AM ET
A new study of Digene Corp.'s recently approved test for cervical cancer showed the test catches 97.8% of cervical cancer and precancerous changes, a significant improvement over the results produced by standard Pap screenings, The Washington Post reports. The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, indicates that a woman who receives a negative result from the new screening method can be virtually assured she does not have cancer and is unlikely to develop it soon. Digene's new screening tool combines the standard Pap test that screens for cellular changes that indicate the presence of cancerous or pre-cancerous cells along with a test that looks for DNA from 13 strains of the human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted virus linked with the development of 99% cervical cancer cases. A positive test result does not necessarily mean that cervical cancer is present, Digene officials say. Instead, a positive test indicates that more intensive follow-up screening methods are needed. The Food and Drug Administration approved Digene's dual Pap/HPV test on March 31. Cervical cancer kills about 4,000 American women each year.