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ADVANCE Discourse: Lab

Study Shows Women Can Self-test for HPV

Published November 8, 2011 8:07 AM by Jill Hoffman

A team of German researchers has shown that women can accurately test themselves for HPV infection, the most common cause of cervical cancer. The research is published in the October Journal of Clinical Microbiology.1

"The high sensitivity of this self-sampling method guarantees to identify nearly all HPV-infected women," says first author Yvonne Delere, of the Robert Koch Institute of the Ministry of Health, Berlin.

In the study, researchers compared self sampling with conventional endocervical brush samples obtained by gynecologists in two groups of women 20-30 years of age, with and without a recent suspicious cytological smear. The two sampling methods were in accord 84% and 91% of the time in the two groups. Overall, the women rated the self-sampling method at 12 on a scale of 0 (easy) to 100 (difficult).

The Netherlands has introduced the new technique into cervical cancer screening programs, and Delere hopes to see the method become widespread in developing countries, where women frequently lack easy access to medical personnel and testing. 

The self-sampling device, the Delphi Screener, is a sterile, syringe-like device containing five milliliters of buffered saline. One operates it by plunging the handle, releasing the saline into the vagina, holding it down for five seconds, then releasing the handle so that the device retrieves the fluid. Next, the user plunges the lavage specimens into pre-labeled coded tubes, and mails it to the laboratory.


1. Delere Y, Schuster M, Vartazarowa E, Hansel T, Hagemann I. Cervicovaginal self-sampling is a reliable method for determination of prevalence of human papillomavirus genotypes in women aged 20 to 30 years. J Clin. Microbiol 2011;49:3519-22.


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