Screening for Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is a virally-triggered cancer, meaning that one of the causative factors is the infection of particular cells by a virus, which then triggers the normal cells to transform into cancer cells.
In this case of cervical cancer, the cells of the cervix are infected by the Human Papilloma Virus, which in certain circumstances can cause cancer. The early stage cervical cancer check is a screening test, which can detect HPV-infected cells even in their precancerous stages.
Studies that compare the Pap test with repeat Pap testing have found that the sensitivity of any abnormality on a single test for detecting high-grade lesions is 55% to 80%.
New Screening Technologies
Newer techniques that employ liquid-based cytology (e.g., ThinPrep) have been developed to improve the sensitivity of screening. As with the Pap test, the optimal studies to determine the sensitivity and specificity of these technologies have not yet been done.