Women over 30 might be better off getting an HPV test than a pap smear to fight the battle against cervical cancer, a new study concludes. Researchers found that the HPV test caught 94% of cervical pre-cancers, versus the pap smear's 55% success rate. Worries that the more sensitive HPV test would return a high rate of false positives proved largely unfounded—both tests were about the same.
When the tests were used together, 100% of cervical pre-cancers were discovered, leading researchers to suggest that women who had negative results on both tests could forgo further testing for three years, instead of the usual one. Currently, the HPV test isn't approved as a primary screening technique, but researchers are "strongly in favor" of it, according to the study's lead author.