Early detection of cervical cancer: Wolfsburg breaks new ground

    Dreieich/Wolfsburg (ots) - The city of Wolfsburg is home to Volkswagen, the car makers. Its reputation to date has mainly been as a motor of progress in the development of modern production methods for the automotive industry. But Wolfsburg is now about to make a name for itself as a European pioneer in implementing better strategies for preventing cervical cancer. Klinikum der Stadt Wolfsburg (a hospital), Deutsche BKK (an insurance provider) and Gesundheitsverbund Wolfsburg (Wolfsburg Alliance for Health, an organization whose members include most of Wolfsburg's gynecologists) signed an agreement to achieve this aim. The overriding goal is to significantly reduce the numbers of women who fall prey to cervical cancer, which claims some 2,000 women's lives every year in Germany, with 7,000 new cases diagnosed annually.

    HPV test to play a greater role

    A key element of the new agreement is routine integration of HPV testing as part of cervical cancer screening in combination with the conventional Pap smear. The HPV test identifies the true cause of cervical cancer, i.e. human papilloma viruses (HPV). In the absence of these sexually transmitted viruses, malignant tumors are extremely rare.

    "Many years of research and study data in more than 100,000 women prove that adding HPV testing to the screening program enables early identification of more cases of cervical cancer and its dangerous precursors than conventional screening," says Professor Karl Ulrich Petry, head of the Gynecology Department at Klinikum Wolfsburg hospital. The Pap smear has long been the mainstay of cervical cancer screening, but fails to identify some women at risk. "Preliminary results from a large pan-European study published just a few months ago provided further confirmation of the benefits of HPV testing," Petry went on to say. Timely detection of pre-cancerous cells (dysplasia) is key. The disease is virtually 100% preventable if detected in the early stages.

    The Pap smear-HPV test combination presents another significant advantage: If the results of both the Pap smear and HPV test are normal, cervical cancer and its precursors can be virtually ruled out. Women testing negative on both procedures don't have to worry for the next couple of years.

    All human papilloma virus testing will be performed with the internationally accepted Hybrid Capture 2 (hc2) HPV DNA Test(r), developed by Digene Corp., which can be used in any routine lab setting.

    "This announcement in Germany is an important milestone for cervical cancer screening and prevention programs globally, and will trigger the attention other countries in Europe with similar public healthcare systems as a new standard of care," said Xavier Bosch, MD, Chief of the Epidemiology and Cancer Registration Unit for the Catalan Institute of Oncology in Spain. "Implementation of HPV DNA testing for routine screening introduces on a large scale the next-generation technology for cervical cancer screening, which has proven to offer significant advantages for the early detection of cervical cancer and its precursor conditions around the world."

    European pioneer

    The Wolfsburg model for cervical cancer prevention could serve as an example for other insurers and countries. Professor Petry: "The Wolfsburg model puts clinical research into practice on a daily basis to the benefit of women and the healthcare system. Deutsche BKK (the insurance provider) and the local gynecologists involved in the project have reason to be proud of breaking new ground in European cancer care through the increased use of the HPV test and other modern evaluation standards such as colposcopy. If we succeed in motivating all the women of Wolfsburg to undergo modern screening, Wolfsburg might soon deserve to be called a 'cervical cancer-free' city."

    Internet: http://www.digene.de        

ots Originaltext: Digene
Internet: www.presseportal.ch/fr

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