A clinical trial has revealed that testing for the DNA of human papillomavirus, when combined with a pap smear, improves detection of lesions that can lead to cervical cancer.
The study, conducted by the VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, on 44,000 women, revealed that this method was more effective in early detection than a pap smear alone.
Authors of the study suggested that the time between smears, currently five years, could be extended to six as a result of this new information, medpagetoday.com reported.
Pre-cancerous changes found by a pap smear are often caused by any one of more than 30 sexually transmitted human papillomaviruses, of which there are more than 100 in total.
Medpagetoday.com reported that the authors wrote about the controversy surrounding whether the additional lesions found using DNA testing for human papillomavirus had any clinical relevance.
"The proof of early detection of a substantial proportion of persistent CIN3+ lesions is the crucial step that was missing until now," the authors wrote.