Recent results from a trial conducted by Roche Molecular Systems support growing evidence that screening for human papillomavirus (HPV) genotypes allows for the earlier identification of cervical cancer and its precursors.

The Addressing the Need for Advanced HPV Diagnostics (ATHENA) trial covered 47,000 patients in the US and was designed to test the importance of screening for HPV genotypes that put women at highest risk for developing cervical cancer.

Roche Molecular Diagnostics MD and chief medical officer Teresa Wright said that it is clear that testing for HPV DNA allows the identification of cancer and its precursors earlier than when pap smear alone is used.

“In HPV-positive women 30 years and older with normal pap smears, screening guidelines recommend testing for specific HPV genotypes to identify those with the highest risk for cancer and its precursors,” Wright said.

Persistent infection with HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer in women, with HPV implicated in over 99% of cervical cancers worldwide.