Comparing Methods to Screen for Cervical Cancer

woman making a heart shape with both hands in front of her clothed body, in front of her cervic to discuss cervical cancer screening
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SurePath showed higher cervical cancer detection rates compared to ThinPrep.

Screening for cervical cancer is recommended to help diagnose the problem at the earliest possible stage. A new study compared different methods.

Researchers in the Netherlands compared conventional screening, SurePath and ThinPrep. They found SurePath had a higher cervical cancer detection rate than ThinPrep.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that more than 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the US in 2017. Although it can develop in younger women, the disease is most common in women who are middle-aged.

Regular screening with Pap tests has reduced the rate of cervical cancer deaths by 50 percent over the last 40 years, according to the ACS.

Newer methods of testing include SurePath and ThinPrep, which offer advantages not available with conventional testing. However, few studies have compared the effectiveness of the two newer methods compared to conventional testing.

Kirsten Rozemeijer, a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Public Health, at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, led the study of more than 5 million women.

The Netherlands has a national registry that collects data on cancer screening and subsequent disease. The researchers analyzed data from the registry for the period from January 2000 to March 2013.

Rozemeijer and colleagues compared the incidence of cervical cancer in women who had undergone conventional screening to those who had been screened using either SurePath or ThinPrep. The found SurePath was the most effective test to identify invasive cervical cancer.

SurePath increased the cervical cancer detection rate somewhat compared to conventional screening, while ThinPrep did not increase cervical cancer detection rates.

The researchers recommend that medical professionals reconsider whether all three of these tests can be considered equivalent in identifying cervical cancer.

The study was published in the February issue of the British Medical Journal.

Funding for the study was provided by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.

None of the researchers reported significant conflicts of interest.

British Medical Journal, “Cervical cancer incidence after normal cytological sample in routine screening using SurePath, ThinPrep, and conventional cytology: population based study”
American Cancer Society, “Cervical Cancer”
Written by: Beth Greenwood, RN | Medically reviewed by: Dr. Robert Carlson, M.D.