‘Life-saving’ cancer test pilot scheme set for Sheffield experts

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A PILOT scheme for a new cervical cancer screening programme – which health chiefs believe could save lives – is to be held in Sheffield.

The test is more sensitive, and will mean women would need screening half as often, while abnormalities would be found at an earlier stage when they are more treatable.

Professor Tim Stephenson, clinical director for laboratory medicine and consultant histopathologist, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as one of the national pilot sites for this important development in cervical cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment.

“Sheffield’s cytology laboratory at the Northern General Hospital is nationally and internationally renowned and has been at the forefront of cancer diagnosis for many years.

“We are fortunate to have some of the most highly skilled scientists working for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, delivering a high standard of testing and analysis.

“This ultimately helps save lives by ensuring a timely, accurate diagnosis which enables rapid and appropriate treatment to be provided where necessary.”

Sheffield was one of six leading sites chosen to look at the implementation of human papilloma virus testing as part of an enhanced cervical screening service.

Now the test will be used as the first line of screening in the pilot.

If abnormal cells are spotted the patient will be referred for further examination.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt unveiled the plans for six areas yesterday.

Along with plans to screen over-55s for bowel cancer, ministers believe the proposals will save up to 3,000 lives a year.

Mr Hunt said he wanted to bring standards in England up to the best in Europe.

The cervical cancer test will also be piloted in Manchester, Liverpool, Northwick Park, Bristol and Norwich.