Skip to main content

New cervical cancer test a stepping stone to more accurate screening

BC Cancer and BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) scientists collaborated with colleagues in the United Kingdom (UK) to evaluate a new DNA test to help assess whether human papillomavirus (HPV) infection will lead to cervical cancer.
Use this image as both the current Page Image and for News listings

BC Cancer, BCCDC and UK scientists collaborated to evaluate a new DNA test to help assess whether human papillomavirus (HPV) infection will lead to cervical cancer. 

HPV is transmitted through sexual contact but is now a vaccine-preventable illness. Women who are not vaccinated need to be tested through either a Pap test or a HPV test. Chronic HPV infection can cause cervical damage that leads to cervical cancer. However, most of the time the HPV infection clears on its own, within about two years, without a person ever knowing they were infected. It’s only chronic infections with a cancer causing type of HPV that may lead to cervical cancer, if left undetected and untreated.

BC has a multipronged cervical cancer prevention strategy. This includes a publicly-funded HPV vaccination program for school-aged children and other individuals who meet certain criteria up to age 26. The HPV vaccine is the best protection against being infected with HPV.

For those women who have already been infected with HPV, BC Cancer’s existing Cervical Cancer Screening Program has done an excellent job at reducing cervical cancer in women. The HPV FOCAL trial led by the BC Cancer and BCCDC researchers had already shown that replacing the current Pap test with primary HPV screening identifies women at-risk of cervical cancer earlier. Women who are HPV negative, need less frequent screening. Because HPV infections are so common and infections will clear on their own, there is a need to develop a test to identify those most at-risk of developing cervical cancer.

The new test looks at both host and viral DNA methylation. When HPV causes cancer, it changes the cell’s DNA and disrupts the cell’s ability to repair damage caused by the infection. This leads to uncontrolled replication of cells that result in cancer. This test looks for the epigenetic methylation changes (damage to the DNA) in viral and human DNA caused by the HPV infection, to objectively identify women at higher risk for cancer.

“This exciting collaboration between BC Cancer, BCCDC and UK scientists reflect our commitment to develop better tools to help eliminate cervical cancer in BC women and worldwide. This new test while promising needs undergo large scale and rigorous evaluation to ensure that it will be effective in practice” says Dr. Van Niekerk, Medical Director for BC Cancer’s Cervical Screening Program and a co-author of this study. 

The study was recently published in the International Journal of Cancer.

For more information about cervical cancer and screening, please visit 

BC Cancer; cervical cancer; BC Centre for Disease Control; HPV; Research
 

 

 

SOURCE: New cervical cancer test a stepping stone to more accurate screening ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © BC Centre for Disease Control. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2022 Provincial Health Services Authority.