New test 'will be more accurate, reliable'
A new, more accurate smear test is to be introduced next autumn, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed yesterday.
He said the HPV test would be expensive but it would be rolled out by CervicalCheck, giving women a better chance of getting an accurate smear test result.
The HPV test would mean that 20pc more precancerous abnormalities would be detected.
It would mean that 30pc more cervical cancer cases and deaths would be avoided for every screening test carried out compared with the existing test.
It would also lead to fewer screening tests over a woman's life time.
Currently the HPV test is applied in a limited number of case.
Women who attend for cervical screening have their samples also tested for HPV if cytology detects low-grade abnormalities.
The change to the HPV test was recommended by Hiqa.
Hiqa director of health technology assessment, Dr Máirín Ryan, said: "HPV infection is associated with almost all cervical precancerous abnormalities and invasive cervical cancers.
"Compared with the current screening strategy, primary HPV screening is a better test which allows all women who participate in cervical screening to become aware of their current HPV status and those who are at higher risk of cervical cancer to be picked up earlier."
"Where a woman is found to be HPV-positive following primary HPV screening, a follow-up test using liquid-based cytology will be carried out on that same sample to inspect for cellular abnormalities
"If any abnormalities are detected, a more detailed examination of the cervix (colposcopy) is needed. Women with a negative HPV test can be reassured that they are at very low risk of developing precancerous abnormalities in the next five years.
"A change to primary HPV screening means the same benefit is provided to women in fewer screenings."
"As HPV infection is more common in younger women, women who have not been vaccinated against HPV and who are aged between 25 and 30 years may benefit from three-yearly screening."