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Portable HPV Test Enables Early Detection of Cervical Cancer at POC

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 06 Jul 2022
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Image: Portable, POC HPV self-testing device yields rapid, easy-to-understand results (Photo courtesy of Ghent University)
Image: Portable, POC HPV self-testing device yields rapid, easy-to-understand results (Photo courtesy of Ghent University)

Cervical cancer, caused by the sexually transmittable Human Papillomavirus (HPV), is the fourth most prevalent cancer among women worldwide, even though it is detectable and preventable in pre-malignant stages through screening and early treatment. However, cervical cancer screening is often a time consuming and stressful event that requires a gynecological examination. As a result, it is not adapted to women who are hard to reach due to social, geographical or other contextual barriers. Now, a more accessible test, based on self-sampling, could increase cervical cancer screening in low-income or isolated populations, as well as among women in general who for a variety of reasons do not attend regular screenings.

The ELEVATE (EarLy dEtection of cerVical cAncer in hard-to-reach populations through portable and point-of-care HPV Testing) project coordinated by Ghent University (Ghent, Belgium) brings together a team of medical doctors, public health researchers, economists, biological engineers, and technology developers from several European and Latin American countries. The ELEVATE consortium aims at developing a user-friendly portable, point-of-care HPV self-testing device that yields rapid, easy-to-understand results, and does not require any electrical outlets or specialized health personnel. The test will detect and identify both the HPV and cancer biomarker proteins to obtain a more complete and specific view on the risk of developing cervical cancer, so that a clear follow-up path can immediately be defined.

The new HPV self-testing tool will be piloted among hard-to-reach populations in a variety of countries (Belgium, Brazil, Ecuador and Portugal). By using a community-based participatory approach, the study will test the user acceptability and the cost-effectiveness of the new screening tool. Ultimately, all acquired knowledge allows for optimized screening initiatives that will enhance participation among hard-to-reach women, and will feed into further refinement of national health strategies for cancer prevention in Latin-America and Europe.

“At the global level, the gains will be much higher with focusing on hard-to-reach women in poorer communities. But a nice side-effect (of the project) is that we could also use this in groups of highly educated women,” said Olivier Degomme, associate professor at the faculty of medicine and health sciences at Ghent University and coordinator of the ELEVATE project. “The important thing is to make sure that it will reach women who could not otherwise be reached. And we can actually save lives, hopefully many lives.”

Related Links:
Ghent University

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