The technology could extend the interval between cervical smears from five to six years.
The study involved 17,155 women aged 29 to 56. At their routine smear appointment, they underwent HPV DNA tests or conventional cytological tests.
Frequency of CIN3+ lesions, a marker for cervical cancer and precursor lesions, was assessed.
Of women tested for HPV DNA, 68 out of 8,575 had CIN3+ lesions. In comparison, 40 of 8,580 women in the conventional group tested positive.
At five years, when participants were tested using both techniques, fewer women in the HPV DNA group were detected with CIN3+ lesions than in the cytology group, say the researchers.
Both groups had similar rates of CIN3+ lesions, showing that HPV DNA tests detect cervical cancer quicker.
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