Science & Tech

New approach to cervical cancer screening could save lives

1 min read

Plus billions in health care costs

When caught early through a Pap test, cervical cancer is almost 100 percent preventable, with treatment of precancers. Compared with current practice, shifting women currently getting annual conventional Pap tests to a schedule of Pap tests once every three years (using a new liquid-based technology that allows for extraction of DNA from cells taken in the Pap sample), and automatically performing HPV DNA testing for women with uncertain Pap results, would provide equal protection against cervical cancer and save the health care system more than $15 billion over the lifetime of a typical group of 18- to 24 year-old women. This is the principal finding of a comprehensive policy analysis conducted by Jane Kim and Sue Goldie of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health. The study appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Associatio, and was co-authored by Thomas Wright of the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University.