Diagnostic testing services provider, Quest Diagnostics, has introduced a new cervical cancer test to evaluate women whose Papanicolaou (Pap) and human papillomavirus (HPV) tests show low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions, a form of mild cellular abnormality.

The test, which is based on the human telomerase RNA component (TERC) gene marker and licensed from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), identifies molecular changes that occur in chromosome arm 3q of TERC in the precursor cells of cervical cancer.

The TERC results will help categorise risk in abnormal Pap tests prior to colposcopy procedure to visually inspect cellular changes, according to the company.

Quest Diagnostics cancer diagnostics services medical director Dr Daniel Jones said the test was possible due to the advanced scientific knowledge available about how molecular changes turn cervical dysplasia into malignancy.

“It can potentially act like a ‘second opinion’ for the thousands of women whose Pap and HPV test results produce an indeterminate picture of cancer risk each year,” Jones said.

“It is important that the medical community continue to promote clinically appropriate testing so we don’t backtrack on these gains.

“With less frequent Pap screening of women, TERC testing is an important tool to ensure women are evaluated reliably and receive the proactive treatment that may prevent malignancy.”

National Institutes of Health technology transfer office director Dr Mark Rohrbaugh said the goal of the institute is to collaborate with commercial organisations to transform its scientific discoveries into clinically valuable technologies.

“The widespread availability of the TERC test through Quest Diagnostics achieves this goal because it has the potential to improve the prediction of cervical cancer risk for many women,” Rohrbaugh said.