Millions of women could benefit from a swab test change — but there’s a catch

Women should be allowed to have a swab every five years instead of every three if they meet a condition, experts say.

All women aged 24 to 49 are currently getting free NHS screening for signs of cervical cancer every three years.

All women in the UK are offered free swab tests by the NHS to check their risk of cervical cancer

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All women in the UK are offered free swab tests by the NHS to check their risk of cervical cancerCredit: Alamy

However, a study by King’s College London found that screening would work just as well if screenings were five years apart instead.

However, five-year check-ups should only be offered to women who test negative for HPV.

The virus — a group of viruses called human papillomaviruses — is responsible for nearly all cases of cervical cancer, and women who don’t have it are at much lower risk.

The King’s College researchers said HPV-negative women did not need to be screened as often, which could improve their attendance.

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dr Matejka Rebolj said: “These results are very reassuring.

“Moving to five-yearly screening means we can prevent just as many types of cancer as before while allowing fewer screenings.”

The screening tests look for changes in cells in the cervix that could lead to cancer.

Around 3,000 women a year are diagnosed with cervical cancer, from which Jade Goody died when she was just 27, but it’s more common in younger women.

The HPV vaccine is now killing the virus that causes most cases of the disease, so rates are falling.

In an article in the British Medical Journal, Dr. Rebolj that HPV positive women should still be screened regularly, but appointments may be postponed for negative women.

The UK National Screening Committee has recommended that the NHS use five year intervals in HPV negative patients.

Medical professionals hope more women will attend screening appointments if they don’t have to go as often.

Michelle Mitchell, CEO of Cancer Research UK, said: “This study shows that offering cervical cancer screening with HPV testing is effective in preventing cervical cancer without the need to screen as often.”

https://www.the-sun.com/health/5464033/smear-tests-five-years-not-three-study-hpv/ Millions of women could benefit from a swab test change — but there’s a catch

Sarah Y. Kim

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