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FDA Says HPV Test Can Be Used before Pap

A test for human papilloma virus (HPV) can be used instead of a Pap smear as the first regular test a woman receives for cervical cancer. That's the decision announced April 24 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. HPV is the cause of nearly all cases of cervical cancer. The test, called cobas, is made by Roche Molecular Systems Inc. It was approved in 2011 to be used along with a Pap smear. Women age 30 or older can get Pap smears less often if an HPV test shows they are not infected. The Pap, an older test, involves removing cells from the cervix. They are examined under a microscope for signs of cervical cancer or abnormal cells that can become cancer. The new FDA decision means the HPV test can be used first for women age 26 or older. The test maker recommends a further test called colposcopy for women who test positive for HPV strains 16 or 18.

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