NNUH one of six centres for HPV screening
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has been confirmed as one of six centres nationally which will pilot new, more sensitive tests as part of the cervical screening programme.
The new tests will automatically check for high risk forms of the HPV virus which are known risk factors for the development of cervical cancer.
Viki Frew, Consultant Biomedical Scientist for Cytopathology at NNUH, said: The link between HPV and cervical cancer has long been known, and with advancing technology we can now test for the virus as a first line of investigation. This screening method is known to be a more effective way of detecting the precancerous lesions of the cervix needing treatment.
Although the virus is very common and most women clear the virus without experiencing any symptoms, if these forms are present at the time of their screening test, it indicates to us which samples need to be examined in more detail under the microscope.
Fiona Kelly, Screening Programmes Lead for NHS Norfolk and Waveney, said: I would urge women to respond as soon as possible to their invitations for screening, seeking more information from their surgeries if necessary. The screening test will help to identify any issues at an early stage and avoid the distress and harm which would come from untreated disease.
The experience for patients attending for cervical screening would be the same in that they will have their sample taken as usual at the GP surgery. The new approach could also lead to an extension of the screening interval, meaning women can be screened less often and could be safely tested every six to 10 years.
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital first started piloting new protocols for HPV testing in 2001 and since then was one of six Sentinel sites to successfully introduce HPV Triage where selected samples are HPV tested. This system of triage has since been rolled-out nationally.
This week the Department of Health confirmed the move to HPV Primary screening where checks are automatically made for high risk forms of HPV. To begin with the NNUH plans to convert a third of the eligible screening population to HPV primary screening and over time fully convert to the new method.