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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Apr;17(4):810-7. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-07-2865.

Human papillomavirus in cervical cancer screening: important role as biomarker.

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AMBIOR, Laboratory of Cell Biology and Histology, University of Antwerp Groenenborgerlaan 171, Antwerp, Belgium. gaƫ


Cervical cytology screening has reduced cervical cancer morbidity and mortality but shows important shortcomings in terms of sensitivity and specificity. Infection with distinct types of human papillomavirus (HPV) is the primary etiologic factor in cervical carcinogenesis. This causal relationship has been exploited for the development of molecular technologies for viral detection to overcome limitations linked to cytologic cervical screening. HPV testing has been suggested for primary screening, triage of equivocal Pap smears or low-grade lesions and follow-up after treatment for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. Determination of HPV genotype, viral load, integration status and RNA expression could further improve the effectiveness of HPV-based screening and triage strategies. The prospect of prophylactic HPV vaccination stresses the importance of modification of the current cytology-based screening approach.

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