J Gynecol Oncol.  2012 Oct;23(4):282-287. 10.3802/jgo.2012.23.4.282.

New insights into cervical cancer screening

  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA.
  • 2Division of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA. warner.huh@ccc.uab.edu


Worldwide, cervical cancer is a leading cause of cancer related morbidity and mortality. For over 50 years, cervical cytology has been the gold standard for cervical cancer screening. Because of its profound effect on cervical cancer mortality in nations that have adopted screening programs, the Pap smear is widely accepted as the model screening test. Since its introduction, many studies have analyzed the Pap smear and found that it is not without its shortcomings including low sensitivity for detection of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2/3. Additionally, the discovery of infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) as a necessary step in the development of cervical cancer has led to the development of HPV testing as an adjunct to cytology screening. More recently, researchers have compared HPV testing and cytology in the primary screening of cervical cancer. In this review, we will discuss cytologic testing limitations, the role of HPV DNA testing as an alternative screening tool, the impact of the HPV vaccine on screening, and future directions in cervical cancer screening.


Co-testing; Cytology; HPV vaccine; Pap smear limitations; Screening

MeSH Terms

Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia
Human Papillomavirus DNA Tests
Mass Screening
Uterine Cervical Neoplasms
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