A new clinical trial (Compass) conducted by Cancer Council NSW and the Victorian Cytology Service in Australia has demonstrated the efficacy of HPV screening for the detection of high-grade cervical abnormalities.

The trial compared HPV screening to Pap tests (cytology) in subjects with substantial use of the HPV vaccine.

The screening was previously found to lower incidence and mortality due to cervical cancer by a minimum of 20%, indicating its accuracy, efficacy and safety.

Cancer Council NSW Research director professor Karen Canfell said: “We found that the HPV test was substantially more effective at picking up high-grade abnormalities compared to the Pap test.

“This adds to existing evidence about how much more accurate and effective HPV screening is. We now have a superior method for detecting not just the virus that causes cervical cancer, but also high-grade abnormalities.”

The trial is expected to confirm the efficacy of the new screening programme before a renewed National Cervical Screening Programme is implemented in the country in December.

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"The screening was previously found to lower incidence and mortality due to cervical cancer by a minimum of 20%, indicating its accuracy, efficacy and safety."

During the first phase of the trial, cervical samples were collected from approximately 5,000 women aged 25-64 years who visited for a routine screening at 47 participating sites in Victoria.

The samples were sent on the management pathway that is part of the upcoming renewed programme.

Victorian Cytology Service executive director associate professor Marion Saville said: “The results represent the first real-life demonstration of how the treatment pathways for primary HPV screening in HPV-vaccinated cohorts of women can work in practice.”

The ongoing second phase of the trial aims to include 121,000 subjects attending a routine screening or follow-up management.

The enhanced detection of high-grade abnormalities of precancerous lesions (CIN2 or higher) is expected to allow early treatment that results in long-term protection from development of CIN3 and invasive cancer.