About 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the U.S. each year. Most women are familiar with the Pap smear, which looks for abnormal cells, but the human papilloma virus or HPV causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer. So doctors often use the Pap smear plus an HPV test to screen for cancer.
Recently the FDA approved a new HPV test and there's been debate over whether it should replace the Pap smear. Doctors say the most important point is that a women gets checked for cervical cancer.
Dr. Rebecca Perkins says, "the majority of women who develop cervical cancer haven't been screened with any test in the past 5 years. Medical experts have not yet offered formal guidelines on when and how the hpv test should be used.
The authors of the article also say improving HPV vaccination in young girls is key to preventing future disease.