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Could the Pap Test Become Obsolete?

Yes, it's possible. The rise of genetic testing and FDA's approval of a cervical cancer vaccine are contributing to this speculation. Some experts argue that the Pap test doesn't have a high enough percentage of accuracy (only 50 to 80%) and that genetic testing can detect more than 90% of precancerous lesions. However, it can't be expected that the Pap test, which has cut cervical cancer rates by more than 75%, is going to disappear overnight. More than half of the 10,000 U.S.

cervical cancer cases are in women who don't even undergo screening, according to the New York Times article. While part of the solution is to engage in stronger efforts to have more women screened, this newer technology--HPV genetic testing--will also have to prove itself more effective (and more cost efficient) than the Pap test.

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