FDA approves Roche HPV test to identify cervical cancer risk

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a test identifying women at highest risk for cervical cancer.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the Roche cobas HPV(Human Papillomavirus) Test, which identifies women at highest risk for cervical cancer. It can potentially help doctors make earlier, more accurate decisions regarding patient care, and may prevent many women from developing cervical cancer.

Persistent infection with Human Papillomavirus is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women, with HPV implicated in greater than 99 percent of cervical cancers worldwide. According to the National Cancer Institute, there are 12,200 new cases of cervical cancer in the United States annually and 4,210 deaths due to the disease. The World Health Organization estimates there are 470,000 new cases of cervical cancer annually.

The cobas HPV Test is the only FDA-approved cervical cancer screening test that allows HPV 16 and 18 genotyping concurrently with high-risk HPV testing. It individually identifies genotypes 16 and 18, the two highest-risk HPV genotypes responsible for more than 70 percent of cervical cancer cases, while simultaneously detecting 12 other high risk HPV genotoypes.

FDA approval for the test was based on data from the ATHENA study involving more than 47,000 women in the United States. Results demonstrated that 1 in 10 women, age 30 and older, who tested positive for HPV 16 and/or 18 by the cobas HPV Test actually had cervical pre-cancer even though they showed normal results with the Pap test.

“The FDA approval of the cobas HPV Test demonstrates the value of simultaneous HPV 16 and 18 genotyping in cervical cancer screening,” said Daniel O’Day, Chief Operating Officer of Roche Diagnostics. “We look forward to working with laboratories and physicians to introduce the cobas HPV Test into routine cervical cancer screening.”

More than 55 million Pap cytology, i.e. Pap smear, tests are performed in the U.S. annually. Current guidelines for screening allow for either cytology or cytology plus HPV testing to determine the risk of cervical cancer. However, HPV testing, and 16 and 18 genotyping in particular, identifies more women at risk earlier than Pap cytology testing alone.

“Screening for high-risk HPV genotypes provides important additive information to Pap testing, and screening for the two highest risk types, HPV 16 and 18 can provide predictive information about a woman’s risk for having cervical pre-cancer or cancer,” said Mark H. Stoler, MD, Professor and Associate Director of Surgical Pathology and Cytopathology, at the University of Virginia Health System. “The cobas HPV Test provides physicians with a validated tool that helps them make early and more informed decisions regarding patient care.”

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