Human papillomavirus (HPV) testing may be the first phrase in a new comprehensive cervical cancer treatment programme.
The virus affects around eight in ten people in the UK at some point in their lives and is a major contributor to a women's risk of cervical tumours.
A new study funded by Cancer Research UK has found that HPV testing should be carried out to ascertain if a woman is at risk of cancer.
Those patients who display severe surgical changes – known as CIN3 – could then be sent for further smear tests. Scientists believe this to be the most optimal method of balancing unnecessary procedures with helping to identify those most at risk.
Officials have wanted to increase the amount of HPV tests conducted in the UK for some time and now this study sheds light on the best way to implement these changes.
Sara Hoim, director of information at Cancer Research UK said: "The findings help answer some of the questions that would need to be considered should the UK refine its highly effective cervical screening programme."