Cervical cancer tests should include virus check, says health council

Changes in testing procedures for cervical cancer will lead to improved detection rates and better targeting of resources, the health council is set to tell health minister Edith Schippers on Tuesday.

The council recommends that the smear test most women undergo every five years from the age of 30 should first be looked at for the HPV virus, which can cause the cancer. If the woman is infected, further tests should be carried out.
‘By testing for the cause of the cancer we can better select [women] and improve monitoring for strange cells,’ gynaecologist Gemma Kenter, who is a member of the council, says in the Volkskrant.
‘This means we could identify an extra 75 women with cervical cancer every year and save 18 lives.’ Up to 700 women a year are diagnosed with cervical cancer.
The council also recommends sending women who do not respond to an official call-up for a smear test a do-it-yourself test to use at home.
Since 2009, all girls in the Netherlands are offered a vaccination against HPV when they reach the age of 12. HPV is sexually transmitted.

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