Recommended Screening Tests for Women
According to a study presented by Annekathryn Goodman of Massachusetts General Hospital at the annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists in March, most HIV positive women should receive colposcopy examinations annually, in addition to Pap smears, to reduce their risk of cervical cancer. A colposcopic examination involves using a lighted microscope to view the cervix. Colposcopies and Pap smears can detect abnormal cell growth that may indicate the early stages of cancer. Goodman recently recommended colposcopies for women with HIV because they are more likely than HIV negative women to have false-negative Pap smears.
In related news, the FDA in March approved a new DNA- based blood test to detect human papillomavirus (HPV), several strains of which are associated with cervical and anal cancer.
The Hybrid Capture II test can detect all 13 strains of HPV. A five-year trial of the new test is currently underway. Although the new test can detect HPV, it cannot determine whether cervical cells are abnormal, and Pap smears are still recommended for this purpose.
Finally, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) now advises that women with metastasized cervical cancer (cancer that has spread) should receive both chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
The new recommendations are based on the results of five studies that have not yet been published; the studies indicate that women who receive both forms of therapy have a 30-50% lower death rate than women who receive only one type of treatment.
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This article was provided by Women Alive. It is a part of the publication Women Alive Newsletter.