Friday, February 08, 2008

There's a Better Test for Cervical Cancer!

Ask yourself why most women haven't heard about the Digene HPV test that when combined with a Pap test finds 98% to 100% of women with the virus that can lead to cervical cancer. A Pap test by itself isn't nearly as accurate.

Ask yourself why your doctor isn't pushing for this test and your insurance company isn't insisting that it be used to avoid the human and financial cost of cervical cancer.

Maybe you can figure it out--I can't.

The medical community preaches preventative health care but when someone comes up with a technology that truly enables MDs to identify a potential health problem they seem to take a wait and see approach.

I've read that some doctors don't want women to be overly concerned if it is found that they have the HPV virus because often the woman's immune system gets rid of the virus before cancer appears. So a positive Digene test is not a death sentence. It just means that the virus is there and if it stays long enough cancer could eventually develop. So the test has to be repeated to monitor the virus and Pap tests are used to watch for cancerous cells. Another test called a colposcopy can be performed to rule out cancer if the virus and abnormal cells are found. So the Digene test, whether positive of negative, increases the doctor's level of information about the condition of the cervix and increases the probability that she'll make the right medical decisions.

Here's a link to my article on that discusses this test which has been approved by the FDA since 1999. Please read the article and get the word out to your women friends. Tell them to insist that their doctors become familiar with the test and ask local laboratories to provide it.

Let me point out that the Digene test is performed on the cells of a pap smear, so the woman doesn't have to submit to a second procedure--all she has to do is ask for the Digene test and the lab does the test at the same time as the Pap test.

You have a right to accurate information.

Take a deep breath,

Dr. Ron