The John and Marney Mathers Lecture this year will a debate the readiness of HPV testing to replace Pap testing.
Warner K. Huh, MD, professor and division director of gynecologic oncology, senior scientist in the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Margaret Cameron Spain endowed chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UAB School of Medicine, supports HPV testing. George F. Sawaya, MD, professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, will take the other side starting at 10:55 am in Ballroom ABC.
Dr. Huh said that emerging data from the United States and international research shows that HPV tests have a much higher sensitivity than Pap tests. More importantly, successful Pap testing requires regular screening at the recommended intervals, but not all women are screened in that manner.
“What we know now is that when a woman gets a Pap test and is told she has a normal Pap, there is a clinically significant risk that she may still have cervical pre-cancer or even cervical cancer,” he said. “The likelihood of that woman having cervical cancer or pre-cancer with a negative result with HPV testing is much, much lower.”
Dr. Sawaya will advocate for a slower approach to adopting HPV testing. Many questions about HPV testing remain to be answered. For instance, what are the patient-centered effects of using a new strategy, and what resources will implementation require?
“Clinicians should rightfully ask, ‘What is the urgency in terms of adopting a new strategy when there’s so much uncertainty around its comparability with our current strategies?’” he said. “This strategy adds a lot of complication to already complicated algorithms. I generally think that advances in medicine are things that simplify.”