For so long, Pap smear test and HPV test were the two known tests to detect cervical cancer but they were not always accurate. As per a report published based on a study led by Queen Mary University of London, a new test has been found to predict the development of cervical cancer up to five years in advance. The study was conducted on a large group of women aged 25yrs - 65yrs in Canada. This new epigenetics-based cervical cancer test was compared with Pap smear test and HPV test and the results concluded were 100% detection accuracy at a reduced cost.
In the study, it was found out that the Pap smear test detected only a quarter while the HPV test detected half of the cancers in the said group of 25yrs - 65yrs aged women. However, the lead researcher Professor Attila Lorincz said that this new epigenetic test is an enormous development to detect all cancers. She also adds, “We're not only astounded by how well this test detects cervical cancer, but it is the first time that anyone has proven the key role of epigenetics in the development of a major solid cancer using data from patients in the clinic. Epigenetic changes are what this cervical cancer test picks up and is exactly why it works so well.”
Since long, doctors and medical professionals have been using Pap smear test to detect cervical cancer and the results yielded a detection of around 50% of pre-cancerous cells in the cervix. Similarly, the HPV test which came into action much after the pap smear test was comparatively much accurate as it looked for the presence of HPV DNA that causes cancer but this test never pre-detected a woman’s risk of developing cancer.
However in the new epigenetic test, instead of checking for patterns in the DNA genetic code, it examines chemical markers that sit atop the DNA forming its “epigenetic profile”.
Professor Lorincz hopes high as this test has the ability to detect cervical cancer in advance and early treatment can improve the chances of survival. She said, “This really is a huge advance in how to deal with HPV-infected women and men, numbering in the billions worldwide, and it is going to revolutionize screening. We were surprised by how well this new test can detect and predict early cervical cancers years in advance, with 100% of cancers detected, including adenocarcinomas, which is a type of cervical cancer that is very difficult to detect. The new test is much better than anything offered in the UK at present but could take at least five years to be established.”
The authors of this report also say that with the implementation of this test, screening appointment and clinical visits to the doctors will reduce in numbers as a serious disease will be detected in its early years.
Let’s hope this test comes into effect soon and improve life expectancy in cancer-stricken patients.