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Cervical Screening Programme to include HPV testing

From April 2011, human papilloma virus (HPV) testing will be incorporated into the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. 

HPV testing will mean that screening can be more effectively targeted, reducing unnecessary procedures and the anxiety that they may cause for women.

HPV testing will now be used for the "HPV triage" of women with borderline or low grade cervical abnormalities, leading to greater efficiency and accuracy across the wider NHS Cervical Screening Programme.

This decision comes after several years of work through the HPV pilot scheme and the Sentinel Site Implementation Project, which analysed how to incorporate HPV testing into the screening programme most effectively.

Dr Tanya Levine, Programme Director and Consultant Cellular Pathologist at North West London Hospitals NHS Trust (one of the Trusts which took part in the Sentinel Site Implementation Project) commented: "HPV testing has embedded really well within our screening programme and has had a positive impact on the service we provide to patients. We have minimised unnecessary surveillance, while maintaining excellent diagnostic and treatment services."

Professor Julietta Patnick CBE, Director of the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, said: "We look forward to working with PCTs and trusts to roll out HPV triage during 2011, as part of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. By incorporating HPV testing into our current screening programme in this way, we will be able to significantly reduce the number of repeat cytology tests required and to target our colposcopy services more effectively. This is an important development in our programme enabling us to screen women more effectively and efficiently, reducing unnecessary procedures and minimising any associated anxiety."

Paul Burstow, Care Services Minister, said: "The coalition is committed to improving cancer outcomes and delivering survival rates that are amongst the best in the world. Screening is vital to this. HPV triage is part of the continuing improvement and development of this world class service, and will lead to a more patient-centred and efficient service."

NHS Cancer Screening Programmes

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"This is good news and having the HPV vaccine is something previous generations of women could only dream about
Would be great if we had the vaccine which reduces the risk of warts as well but a battle for another day" - Kathy French, Bromley

"Good news, will this be incorporated in with the liquid base cytol or will we also need to do triple swabs?" - Jan Ryzy, S Wales

"I believe that this will be widely accepted by women and will see a marked improvement in the service of cytology screening. Will we be taking sample from liquid base cytology or endocervical triple swabs" - Jacqui Harper, West Midlands

"I was under the impression that HPV testing was already included as part of cervical cytology. I have had numerous smear results which have included a report of HPV infection" - Carol White, Drymen Health Centre

"I think it is a useful addition to the cervical screening programme with the ability to target those in need more accurately and so free up time for colposcopy services to work more efficiently to the benefit of all those needing their timely support" - Barbara Wells, Dover

"Great news but will we need to swab or is the HPV testing taken from the smear sample" - Lisa Kitchen, Leeds