Cancer scare:Urine test to end ‘smear fear’

Women who are too anxious or embarrassed to go for a smear test could instead provide urine sample to be screened for cervical cancer, research suggests.

A trial found urine testing was as good at detecting a virus called HPV that is a big risk factor for the cancer.

Bigger trials are still needed but experts said self-testing could be a game-changer for women.

The number of people going for smear tests is lower than ever as attendance is now down to 71%, meaning several million women have not had a smear test for at least three and a half years.

Smear tests prevent 75% of cervical cancers, so while they may not be pleasant, they are important.

A smear test can detect early, abnormal cell changes before a cancer develops.

Celebrities and campaigners have tried to encourage more women to attend but scientists are also looking at other ways to screen for the condition to improve screening uptake.

Some pilot studies are already asking women to try out self-testing at home with a vaginal swab.

Now, researchers at the University of Manchester say urine testing would be another option.

Lead researcher Dr Emma Crosbie said: “We’re really very excited by this study, which we think has the potential to significantly increase participation rates for cervical cancer screening.

She said larger trials of the urine test were still needed before it could be recommended to the NHS.

Athena Lamnisos, from the Eve Appeal, said: “Finding ways of screening that avoid the need for a physical test and use of a speculum is important.

“For women living with the impact of FGM [female genital mutilation] or those who have suffered sexual abuse or live with conditions such as vaginismus, screening in a non-invasive way could be game-changing for screening uptake.

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