Advances in screening

While regular screening tests greatly help the early detection of cervical cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body., no test is 100 per cent accurate. Having regular tests can help to address this, and the accuracy of the tests themselves may be improved by a number of advances explained here.

Liquid based cytology

This is a way of improving the interpretation of cervical screening test slides, which are sometimes difficult to assess. Rather than smearing the sample directly onto the glass slide, the doctor or nurse puts the sample in a small bottle containing a special solution. The cells are then transferred onto the slide in a single layer. These tests can also be used to look for human papilloma virusA sexually transmitted virus that can cause genital warts and may also have a role in the development of various cancers. (see below).

Because cervical cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. is closely linked to infectionInvasion by organisms that may be harmful, for example bacteria or parasites. with human papilloma virusA sexually transmitted virus that can cause genital warts and may also have a role in the development of various cancers., it is thought that testing for this virusA microbe that is only able to multiply within living cells. may help to find those women who are at higher risk

Computer-assisted screening

Human error in the examination of cervical screening slides may also reduce the accuracy of the test. Computer-assisted screening may reduce the risk of missing any abnormalities.

Human papilloma virus testing

Because cervical cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. is closely linked to infectionInvasion by organisms that may be harmful, for example bacteria or parasites. with human papilloma virusA sexually transmitted virus that can cause genital warts and may also have a role in the development of various cancers., it is thought that testing for this virusA microbe that is only able to multiply within living cells. may help to find those women who are at higher risk.

It is important to note that most women with human papilloma virusA sexually transmitted virus that can cause genital warts and may also have a role in the development of various cancers. infectionInvasion by organisms that may be harmful, for example bacteria or parasites. do not develop cervical cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. Most infections with the virusA microbe that is only able to multiply within living cells. are short-lived, especially in younger women: this is one of the reasons that only a small proportion of women who have the virusA microbe that is only able to multiply within living cells. develop cervical cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. However, research has shown that, in this small proportion, human papilloma virusA sexually transmitted virus that can cause genital warts and may also have a role in the development of various cancers. is almost always present.

Combining human papilloma virusA sexually transmitted virus that can cause genital warts and may also have a role in the development of various cancers. testing and cervical screening tests might mean that women need to be screened less often, and this is thought to be a cost-effective approach. Human papilloma virusA microbe that is only able to multiply within living cells. testing will probably be used more regularly in screening for cervical cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. in the future.