Choosing a screening method for cervical cancer: Pap alone or with HPV test

Karen Smith-McCune, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, writes: "The updated guidelines leave physicians and other clinicians with a question: is cotesting with Pap-plus-HPV testing truly preferred over Pap testing alone (the American Cancer Society/the American Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology/the American Society of Clinical Pathology recommendation), or are the options equivalent (the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation)?"

"Once a straightforward process, screening for cervical cancer is now increasingly complex. Absent better data about the advantages and disadvantages of Pap testing and cotesting in various settings, clinicians should help their patients make individual decisions about cervical cancer screening that incorporate their values and preferences. The designation of cotesting as the preferred approach in one set of screening guidelines may be premature," Smith-McCune concludes.

Source: The JAMA Network Journals