A new cervical cancer screening test looks set to revolutionise the way in which women are tested for this disease. UDoTest has recently released a new self-collection test for HPV, the virus which causes cervical cancer, which has received widespread acceptance from the medical industry, and is claimed to provide greater accuracy than conventional tests. It also provides the added appeal of enabling women to test themselves at home.
According to the World Health Organisation, approximately 6 000 South African women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, with approximately 3 000 women dying from the disease in the same period. If detected timeously cervical cancer is treatable, yet only 20 percent of South African women have ever been for a pap smear. "There is no doubt that the HPV test is more effective in detecting possible cervical cancer risks than a pap smear or gold standard", says Prof G Dreyer, Principal specialist, Pretoria Academic Hospital and Adjunct Professor, Dept Obstetrics and Gyanecology, Head of Gynaecologic Oncology Unit, University of Pretoria.
These are alarming statistics when one considers that early detection of the HPV virus can literally mean the difference between life and death, and without intervention things will only get worse. Indeed, the World Health Organisation predicts that while currently eight women a day die from cervical cancer, this will rise to a total of 12 per day by 2025.
Allison Martin, MD of UDoTest, reveals that South African women are not the only ones who are jeopardising their health by avoiding that annual visit to the gynaecologist. "There are many reasons why women across the world decide not to get screened and these include education, cost, access to medical practitioners, social barriers, apprehension, uneasiness, lack of time, family constraints, cultural barriers," she explains.
Now with the innovative new UDoTest available, professionals speculate that all of this may change. "Our highly specific and sensitive test aims to remove some of these barriers by providing women with the opportunity to collect their own sample of cervical cells in the comfort of their home and have it analysed in an accredited pathology laboratory," comments Martin.
"Women can collect their own sample in the comfort of their homes and have it analysed in an accredited pathology lab. It's as easy as buying airtime!"
Specialists are confident about recommending UDoTest to consumers, stating the results of the new HPV test are in fact more reliable than a traditional pap smear in detecting high risk HPV. According to Professor Greta Dreyer of the University of Pretoria's gynaecological oncology unit, when asked about the regular screening of cervical cancer "There is no doubt that the HPV test is more effective than a pap smear or gold standard."
Healthcare professionals are also confident that women are capable of administering the test and conducting the sampling themselves. Dr Karin Richter, a Medical Virologist at the University of Pretoria and National Health Laboratory Service maintains that, "Cervical cancer screening on self-collected specimens is an acceptable alternative for South African women."
In fact the ease and seamlessness with which the entire process takes place has been equated to the simplicity of purchasing airtime for a mobile phone. Consumers can purchase their self-collection HPV test by logging onto UDoTest's website or mobi-site (www.UDoTest.com). When the consumer selects the courier option the company's nationwide deliver-anywhere policy within 24 hours is activated. UDoTest then collect the completed test and analyse it in accredited pathology laboratories. Alternatively the postal option can be chosen. Feedback on the test is then communicated via doctors back to the consumer on their secure online UDoTest profile.
Martin believes UDoTest will usher in a new era in cervical cancer screening and prevention for South African women. "The combination of digital, mobile and molecular technology inspires me and gives me hope. I believe that we can beat this disease and prevent unnecessary death and suffering by detecting the HPV virus in women early and by getting treatment when needed."